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Scarlet  Pimpernel 


BARONESS  ORCZY 

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G.  P.  PUTNAM’S  SONS 

NEW  YORK  AND  LONDON 
Zbc  *fcttfcftec£>ocfcer  {press 


Hbc  *fcnicfeert>ccfcer  pre*s,  flew  KWfe 


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JULIA  NEILSON  and  FRED  TERR? 

WHOSE  GENIUS  CREATED  THE  r6LES  07 
•IE  PERCY  AND  LADY  BLAKBNXY 
ON  THE  STAGE, 

THIS  BOOK 

It  AFFECTIONATELY  DEDICATE*. 


CONTENTS 


sx*r. 

L 

Paris:  September  1792 

• 

• 

IMI 

X 

II. 

Dover:  “The  Fisherman's  Rest” 

• 

• 

XX 

III. 

The  Refugees  . 

. 

t 

• 

*3 

IV. 

The  League  of  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel 

• 

3a 

V. 

Marguerite 

• 

• 

• 

43 

VI. 

An  Exquisite  of  '92 

• 

• 

• 

49 

VII. 

The  Secret  Orchard 

• 

• 

<X 

VIII. 

The  Accredited  Agent 

• 

• 

69 

IX. 

The  Outrage  . 

• 

• 

82 

X. 

In  the  Opera  Box 

• 

• 

• 

90 

XI. 

Lord  Grenville’s  Ball 

• 

• 

• 

108 

XII. 

The  Scrap  of  Paper  . 

• 

• 

• 

Xl6 

XIII. 

Either— Or?  . 

• 

• 

• 

126 

XIV. 

One  O’Clocx  Precisely! 

• 

• 

• 

X29 

XV. 

Doubt  . • • 

• 

• 

• 

x39 

XVI. 

Richmond  • . 

• 

t 

• 

146 

XVII. 

Far  swell  • 

• 

• 

t 

163 

XVIII. 

The  Mysterious  Device 

• ' 

% 

• 

m 

vl  CONTENTS 


CHJUP. 

XIX. 

The  Scarlet  Pimpernel 

• 

• 

• 

*Atm 

178 

XX. 

The  Friend  • . 

• 

• 

1 

189 

XXL 

Suspense  . , 

• 

• 

• 

197 

XXII. 

Calais  • , 

• 

• 

• 

*07 

XXIII. 

Hope 

• 

• 

• 

EI9 

XXIV. 

The  Death-trap 

• 

• 

• 

228 

XXV. 

The  Eagle  and  the  Fox 

• 

• 

• 

236 

XXVI. 

The  Jew 

• 

t 

* 

146 

XXVII. 

On  the  Track  . 

• 

% 

• 

258 

XXVIII. 

The  P&rr  Blanchard’s  Hut 

m 

• 

267 

XXIX. 

Trapped 

• 

• 

278 

XXX. 

The  Schooner 

• 

• 

• 

284 

XXXI. 

The  Escape 

• 

• 

299 

THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


The  Scarlet  Pimpernel 


CHAPTER  I 

PARIS:  SEPTEMBER  1 792 

A surging,  seething,  murmuring  crowd,  of  beings  that 
are  human  only  in  name,  for  to  the  eye  and  ear  they 
seem  naught  but  savage  creatures,  animated  by  vile 
passions  and  by  the  lust  of  vengeance  and  of  hate. 
The  hour,  some  little  time  before  sunset,  and  the  place, 
the  West  Barricade,  at  the  very  spot  where,  a decade 
later,  a proud  tyrant  raised  an  undying  monument  to  the 
nation’s  glory  and  his  own  vanity. 

During  the  greater  part  of  the  day  the  guillotine  had 
been  kept  busy  at  its  ghastly  work : all  that  France  had 
boasted  of  in  the  past  centuries,  of  ancient  names,  and 
blue  blood,  had  paid  toll  to  her  desire  for  liberty  and  for 
fraternity.  The  carnage  had  only  ceased  at  this  late 
hour  of  the  day  because  there  were  other  more  interesting 
sights  for  the  people  to  witness,  a little  while  before  the 
final  closing  of  the  barricades  for  the  night. 

And  so  the  crowd  rushed  away  from  the  Place  de  la 
Greve  and  made  for  the  various  barricades  in  order  to 
watch  this  interesting  and  amusing  sight 

It  was  to  be  seen  every  day,  for  those  aristoi  were 


2 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


such  fools ! They  were  traitors  to  the  people  of  course, 
all  of  them,  men,  women,  and  children,  who  happened 
to  be  descendants  of  the  great  men  who  since  the 
Crusades  had  made  the  glory  of  France : her  old 
nobUsse.  Their  ancestors  had  oppressed  the  people, 
had  crushed  them  under  the  scarlet  heels  of  their  dainty 
buckled  shoes,  and  now  the  people  had  become  the 
rulers  of  France  and  crushed  their  former  masters-— not 
beneath  their  heel,  for  they  went  shoeless  mostly  in 
these  days — but  beneath  a more  effectual  weight,  the 
knife  of  the  guillotine. 

And  daily,  hourly,  the  hideous  instrument  of  torture 
claimed  its  many  victims — old  men,  young  women, 
tiny  children,  even  until  the  day  when  it  would  finally 
demand  the  head  of  a Ring  and  of  a beautiful 
young  Queen. 

But  this  was  as  it  should  be  : were  not  the  people 
now  the  rulers  of  France?  Every  aristocrat  was  a 
traitor,  as  his  ancestors  had  been  before  him : for  two 
hundred  years  now  the  people  had  sweated,  and  toiled, 
and  starved,  to  keep  a lustful  court  in  lavish  extrava- 
gance; now  the  descendants  of  those  who  had  helped 
to  make  those  courts  brilliant  had  to  hide  for  their 
lives — to  fly,  if  they  wished  to  avoid  the  tardy  venge- 
ance of  the  people. 

And  they  did  try  to  hide,  and  tried  to  fly : that  was  just 
the  fun  of  the  whole  thing.  Every  afternoon  before  the 
gates  closed  and  the  market  carts  went  out  in  proces- 
sion by  the  various  barricades,  some  fool  of  an  aristo 
endeavoured  to  evade  the  clutches  of  the  Committee  of 
Public  Safety.  In  various  disguises,  under  various 
pretexts,  they  tried  to  slip  through  the  barriers  which 
were  so  well  guarded  by  citisen  soldiers  of  the  Republic 
Men  in  women’s  clothes,  women  in  male  attire,  children 


PARIS:  SEPTEMBER  1792  3 

disguised  in  beggars’  rags : there  were  some  of  all  sorts : 
ci-devant  counts,  marquises,  even  dukes,  who  wanted  to 
fly  from  France,  reach  England  or  some  other  equally 
accursed  country,  and  there  try  to  rouse  foreign  feeling 
against  the  glorious  Revolution,  or  to  raise  an  army  in 
order  to  liberate  the  wretched  prisoners  in  the  Temple, 
who  had  once  called  themselves  sovereigns  of  France. 

But  they  were  nearly  always  caught  at  the  barricades. 
Sergeant  Bibot  especially  at  the  West  Gate  had  a 
wonderful  nose  for  scenting  an  aristo  in  the  most 
perfect  disguise.  Then,  of  course,  the  fun  began. 
Bibot  would  look  at  his  prey  as  a cat  looks  upon  the 
mouse,  play  with  him,  sometimes  for  quite  a quarter  of 
an  hour,  pretend  to  be  hoodwinked  by  the  disguise,  by 
the  wigs  and  other  bits  of  theatrical  make-up  which  hid 
the  identity  of  a ci-devant  noble  marquise  or  count. 

Oh  1 Bibot  had  a keen  sense  of  humour,  and  it  was 
well  worth  hanging  round  that  West  Barricade,  in  order 
to  see  him  catch  an  aristo  in  the  very  act  of  trying  to 
flee  from  the  vengeance  of  the  people. 

Sometimes  Bibot  would  let  his  prey  actually  out  by 
the  gates,  allowing  him  to  think  for  the  space  of  two 
minutes  at  least  chat  he  really  had  escaped  out  of  Paris, 
and  might  even  manage  to  reach  the  coast  of  England  in 
safety : but  Bibot  would  let  the  unfortunate  wretch  walk 
about  ten  metres  towards  the  open  country,  then  he 
would  send  two  men  after  him  and  bring  him  back, 
stripped  of  his  disguise. 

Oh  ! that  was  extremely  funny,  for  as  often  as  not  the 
fugitive  would  prove  to  be  a woman,  some  proud 
marchioness,  who  looked  terribly  comical  when  she 
found  herself  in  Bibot’s  clutches  after  all,  and  knew  that 
a summary  trial  would  await  her  the  next  day  and  after 
that,  the  fond  embrace  of  Madame  la  Guillotine. 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


* 

No  wonder  that  on  this  fine  afternoon  in  September 
the  crowd  round  Bibot’s  gate  was  eager  and  excited. 
The  lust  of  blood  grows  with  its  satisfaction,  there  is  no 
satiety  : the  crowd  had  seen  a hundred  noble  heads  fall 
beneath  the  guillotine  to-day,  it  wanted  to  make  sure 
that  it  would  see  another  hundred  fall  on  the  morrow. 

Bibot  was  sitting  on  an  overturned  and  empty  cask 
close  by  the  gate  of  the  barricade ; a small  detachment 
of  citoyen  soldiers  was  under  his  command.  The  work 
had  been  very  hot  lately.  Those  cursed  aristos  were 
becoming  terrified  and  tried  their  hardest  to  slip  out  of 
Paris : men,  women  and  children,  whose  ancestors,  even 
in  remote  ages,  had  served  those  traitorous  Bourbons, 
were  all  traitors  themselves  and  right  food  for  the 
guillotine.  Every  day  Bibot  had  had  the  satisfaction  of 
unmasking  some  fugitive  royalists  and  sending  them 
back  to  be  tried  by  the  Committee  of  Public  Safety, 
presided  over  by  that  good  patriot,  Citoyen  Foucquier- 
Tinville. 

Robespierre  and  Danton  both  had  commended  Bibot 
for  his  zeal,  and  Bibot  was  proud  of  the  fact  that  he  on 
his  own  initiative  had  sent  at  least  fifty  aristos  to  the 
guillotine. 

But  to-day  all  the  sergeants  in  command  at  the  various 
barricaded  had  had  special  orders.  Recently  a very  great 
number  of  aristos  had  succeeded  in  escaping  out  of 
France  and  in  reaching  England  safely.  There  were 
curious  rumours  about  these  escapes ; they  had  become 
very  frequent  and  singularly  daring  ; the  people’s  minds 
were  becoming  strangely  excited  about  it  all.  Sergeant 
Grospierre  had  been  sent  to  the  guillotine  for  allowing  a 
whole  family  of  aristos  to  slip  out  of  the  North  Gate 
under  his  very  nose. 

It  was  asserted  that  these  escapes  were  organised  by 


5 


PARIS  i SEPTEMBER  1793 

a band  of  Englishmen,  whose  daring  seemed  to  be 
unparalleled,  and  who,  from  sheer  desire  to  meddle  in 
what  did  not  concern  them,  spent  their  spare  time  in 
snatching  away  lawful  victims  destined  for  Madame 
la  Guillotine.  These  rumours  soon  grew  in  extrava- 
gance ; there  was  no  doubt  that  this  hand  of  meddlesome 
Englishmen  did  exist ; moreover,  they  seemed  to  be  under 
the  leadership  of  a man  whose  pluck  and  audacity 
were  almost  fabulous.  Strange  stories  were  afloat  of 
how  he  and  those  aristos  whom  he  rescued  became 
suddenly  invisible  as  they  reached  the  barricades  and 
escaped  out  of  the  gates  by  sheer  supernatural  agency. 

No  one  had  seen  these  mysterious  Englishmen ; as 
for  their  leader,  he  was  never  spoken  of,  save  with  a super- 
stitious shudder.  Citoyen  Foucquier-Tinville  would  in  the 
course  of  the  day  receive  a scrap  of  paper  from  some 
mysterious  source;  sometimes  he  would  find  it  in  the 
pocket  of  his  coat,  at  others  it  would  be  handed  to  him 
by  someone  in  the  crowd,  whilst  he  was  on  his  way  to 
the  sitting  of  the  Committee  of  Public  Safety.  The 
paper  always  contained  a brief  notice  that  the  band  of 
meddlesome  Englishmen  were  at  work,  and  it  was 
always  signed  with  a device  drawn  in  red — a little  star- 
shaped flower,  which  we  in  England  call  the  Scarlet 
Pimpernel.  Within  a few  hours  of  the  receipt  of  this 
impudent  notice,  the  citoyen^  of  the  Committee  of 
Public  Safety  would  hear  that  so  many  royalists  and 
aristocrats  had  succeeded  in  reaching  the  coast,  and 
were  on  their  way  to  England  and  safety. 

The  guards  at  the  gates  had  been  doubled,  the 
sergeants  in  command  had  been  threatened  with  death, 
whilst  liberal  rewards  were  offered  for  the  capture  of 
these  daring  and  impudent  Englishmen.  There  was 
a sum  of  fire  thousand  francs  promised  to  the  man 


6 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


who  laid  hands  on  the  mysterious  and  elusive  Scarlet 
Pimpernel. 

Everyone  felt  that  Bibot  would  be  that  man,  and 
Bibot  allowed  that  belief  to  take  firm  root  in  every- 
body’s mind;  and  so,  day  after  day,  people  came  to 
watch  him  at  the  West  Gate,  so  as  to  be  present  when  he 
laid  hands  on  any  fugitive  aristo  who  perhaps  might  be 
accompanied  by  that  mysterious  Englishman. 

“ Bah ! ” he  said  to  his  trusted  corporal,  “ Citoyen 
Grospierre  was  a fool ! Had  it  been  me  now,  at  that 
North  Gate  last  week  . . 

Citoyen  Bibot  spat  on  the  ground  to  express  his 
contempt  for  his  comrade’s  stupidity. 

“ How  did  it  happen,  citoyen  ? " asked  the  corporal. 

“Grospierre  was  at  the  gate,  keeping  good  watch,* 
began  Bibot,  pompously,  as  the  crowd  closed  in  round 
him,  listening  eagerly  to  his  narrative.  11  We’ve  all  heard 
of  this  meddlesome  Englishman,  this  accursed  Scarlet 
Pimpernel.  He  won’t  get  through  my  gate,  morbltu  / 
unless  he  be  the  devil  himself.  But  Grospierre  was  a 
fool.  The  market  carts  were  going  through  the  gates ; 
there  was  one  laden  with  casks,  and  driven  by  ac  old 
man,  with  a uoy  beside  him.  Grospierre  was  a bit 
drunk,  but  he  thought  himself  very  clever ; he  looked 
into  the  casks — most  of  them,  at  least — and  saw  they 
were  empty,  and  let  the  cart  go  through.* 

A murmur  of  wrath  and  contempt  went  round  the 
group  of  ill  clad  wretches,  who  crowded  round  Citoyen 
Bibot. 

“Half  an  hour  later,”  continued  the  sergeant,  “up 
comes  a captain  of  the  guard  with  a squad  of  some 
dozen  soldiers  with  him.  4 Has  a cart  gone  through?* 
he  asks  of  Grospierre,  breathlessly.  * Yes,’  says  Gros- 
pierre, 1 not  half  an  hour  ago.’  ‘ And  you  have  let  them 


7 


PARIS;  SEPTEMBER  1792 

escape/  shouts  the  captain  furiously.  ‘You’ll  go  to 
the  guillotine  for  this,  citoyen  sergeant!  that  cart 
held  concealed  the  ci-devant  Due  de  Chalis  and  all  his 
family  ! ’ ‘What ! * thunders  Grospierre,  aghast.  ‘Aye ! 
and  the  driver  was  none  other  than  that  cursed  English- 
man, the  Scarlet  Pimpernel.’” 

A howl  of  execration  greeted  this  tale.  Citoyen 
Grospierre  had  paid  for  his  blunder  on  the  guillotine, 
but  what  a fool ! oh  ! what  a fool ! 

Bibot  was  laughing  so  much  at  his  own  tale  that  it 
was  some  time  before  he,  could  continue. 

“‘After  them,  my  men,’  shouts  the  captain,”  he 
said,  after  a while,  “ ‘ remember  the  reward  ; after  them, 
they  cannot  have  gone  far ! ’ And  with  that  he  rushes 
through  the  gate,  followed  by  his  dozen  soldiers.” 

“ But  it  was  too  late  ! ” shouted  the  crowd,  excitedly. 
“ They  never  got  them  ! ” 

“ Curse  that  Grospierre  for  his  folly ! ” 

“ He  deserved  his  fate ! ” 

“ Fancy  not  examining  those  casks  properly ! ” 

But  these  sallies  seemed  to  amuse  Citoyen  Bibot 
exceedingly ; be  laughed  until  his  sides  ached,  and  the 
tears  streamed  down  his  cheeks. 

“ Nay,  nay  1 ” he  said  at  last,  “ those  aristos 
weren’t  in  the  cart ; the  driver  was  not  the  Scarlet 
Pimpernel ! ” 

“What?” 

“ No ! The  captain  of  the  guard  was  that  damned 
Englishman  in  disguise,  and  everyone  of  his  soldiers 
aristos ! ” 

The  crowd  this  time  said  nothing;  the  story  cer- 
tainly savoured  of  the  supernatural,  and  though  the 
Republic  had  abolished  God,  it  had  not  quite  succeeded 
in  killing  the  fear  of  the  supernatural  in  the  hearts  of  the 


8 THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

people.  Truly  that  Englishman  must  be  the  devil 
himself. 

The  sun  was  sinking  low  down  in  the  west.  Eibot 
prepared  himself  to  close  the  gates. 

“ En  avant  the  carts,”  he  said. 

Some  dozen  covered  carts  were  drawn  up  in  a row, 
ready  to  leave  town,  in  order  to  fetch  the  produce 
from  the  country  close  by,  for  market  the  next  morning. 
They  were  mostly  well  known  to  Bibot,  as  they  went 
through  his  gate  twice  every  day  on  their  way  to  and 
from  the  town.  He  spoke  to  one  or  two  of  their  drivers 
— mostly  women — and  was  at  great  pains  to  examine 
the  inside  of  the  carts. 

“ You  never  know,”  he  would  say,  .*•  and  I’m  not  going 
to  be  caught  like  that  fool  Grospierre,” 

The  women  who  drove  the  carts  usually  spent  their  da] 
on  the  Place  de  la  Gr£ve,  beneath  the  platform  of  thi 
guillotine,  knitting  and  gossiping,  whilst  they  watchec 
the  rows  of  tumbrils  arriving  with  the  victims  the  Reigr 
of  Terror  claimed  every  day.  It  was  great  fuc 
to  see  the  aristos  arriving  for  the  reception  of  Madame 
la  Guillotine,  and  the  places  close  by  the  platform  were 
very  much  sought  after.  Bibot,  during  the  day,  had 
been  on  duty  on  the  Place.  He  recognized  most  jf  the 
old  hags,  “ tricotteuses,”  as  they  were  called,  who  sat 
there  and  knitted,  whilst  head  after  head  fell  beneath  thr 
knife,  and  they  themselves  got  quite  bespattered  with 
the  blood  of  those  cursed  aristos. 

“ H6  ! la  m&re  ! ” said  Bibot  to  one  of  these  hornbic 
bags,  “ what  have  you  got  there  ? ” 

He  had  seen  her  earlier  in  the  day,  with  her  knitting 
and  the  whip  of  her  cart  close  beside  her.  Now  she 
had  fastened  a row  of  curly  locks  to  the  whip  handle, 
all  colours,  from  gold  to  silver,  fair  to  dark,  and  she 


PARIS:  SEPTEMBER  1792  9 

stroked  them  with  her  huge,  bony  fingers  as  she  laughed 
at  Bibot. 

“ I made  friends  with  Madame  Guillotine’s  lover,”  she 
said  with  a coarse  laugh,  “ he  cut  these  off  for  me  from 
the  heads  as  they  rolled  down.  He  has  promised  me 
some  more  to-morrow,  but  I don’t  know  if  I shall  be  at 
my  usual  place.” 

“ Ah  ! how  is  that,  la  m£re  ? ” asked  Bibot,  who, 
hardened  soldier  though  he  was,  could  not  help  shudder- 
ing at  the  awful  loathsomeness  of  this  semblance  of  a 
woman,  with  her  ghastly  trophy  on  the  handle  of  her  whip. 

“ My  grandson  has  got  the  small-pox,”  she  said  with  a 
jerk  of  her  thumb  towards  the  inside  of  her  cart,  “some 
say  it’s  the  plague ! If  it  is,  I sha’n’t  be  allowed  to  come 
into  Paris  to-morrow.” 

At  the  first  mention  of  the  word  small-pox,  Bibot  had 
stepped  hastily  backwards,  and  when  the  old  hag  spoke 
of  the  plague,  he  retreated  from  her  as  fast  as  he  could. 

“ Curse  you  ! ” he  muttered,  whilst  the  whole  crowd 
hastily  avoided  the  cart,  leaving  it  standing  all  alone  in 
the  midst  of  the  place. 

The  old  hag  laughed. 

“Curse  you,  citoyen,  for  being  a coward,”  she  said. 
“Bah  ! what  a man  to  be  afraid  of  sickness.” 

“ Morbleu  l the  plague  1 ” 

Everyone  was  awe-struck  and  silent,  filled  with  horror 
for  the  loathsome  malady,  the  one  thing  which  still  had 
the  power  to  arouse  terror  and  disgust  in  these  savage, 
brutalised  creatures. 

“Get  out  with  you  and  with  your  plague-stricken 
brood  ! ” shouted  Bibot,  hoarsely. 

And  with  another  rough  laugh  and  coarse  jest,  the  old 
hag.  whipped  up  her  lean  nag  and  drove  her  cart  out  of 
the  gate. 


10 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


This  incident  had  spoilt  the  afternoon.  The  people 
were  terrified  of  these  two  horrible  curses,  the  two 
maladies  which  nothing  could  cure,  and  which  were  the 
precursors  of  an  awful  and  lonely  death  They  hung  ( 
about  the  barricades,  silent  and  sullen  for  a while, 
eyeing  one  another  suspiciously,  avoiding  each  other  as 
if  by  instinct,  lest  the  plague  lurked  already  in  their 
midst.  Presently,  as  in  the  case  of  Grospierre,  a captain 
of  the  guard  appeared  suddenly.  But  he  was  known  to 
Bibot,  and  there  was  no  fear  of  his  turning  out  to  be  a 
sly  Englishman  in  disguise. 

“ A cart,  ^ he  shouted  breathlessly,  even  before 
he  had  reached  the  gates. 

“What  cart?”  asked  Bibot,  roughly. 

“ Driven  by  an  old  hag.  ...  A covered  cart  ..." 

“ There  were  a dozen  ..." 

“ An  old  hag  who  said  her  son  had  the  plague  ? ” 

“Yes  ...” 

“You  have  not  let  them  go?” 

“ Morbleu  1 ” said  Bibot,  whose  purple  cheeks  had 
suddenly  become  white  with  fear. 

“The  cart  contained  the  ci-devant  Comtesse  de 
Tournay  and  her  two  children,  all  of  them  traitors  and 
condemned  to  death.” 

“ And  their  driver  ? ” muttered  Bibot,  as  a superstitious 
shudder  ran  down  his  spine. 

“ Sacri  tonncrre,”  said  the  captain,  “but  it  is  feared 
that  it  was  that  accursed  Englishman  himself — the 
Scarlet  PimperneL” 


CHAPTER  Ii 

cover:  “the  fisherman’s  rest" 

Ik  the  kitchen  Sally  was  extremely  busy — saucepans 
and  frying-pans  were  standing  in  rows  on  the  gigantic 
hearth,  the  huge  stock-pot  stood  in  a corner,  and  the 
jack  turned  with  slow  deliberation,  and  presented 
alternately  to  the  glow  every  side  of  a noble  sirloin  of 
beef.  The  two  little  kitchen-maids  bustled  around, 
eager  to  help,  hot  and  panting,  with  cotton  sleeves  well 
tucked  up  above  the  dimpled  elbows,  and  giggling  over 
some  private  jokes  of  their  own,  whenever  Miss  Sally’s 
back  was  turned  for  a moment.  And  old  Jemima,  stolid 
in  temper  and  solid  in  bulk,  kept  up  a long  and  subdued 
grumble,  while  she  stirred  the  stock -pot  methodically  over 
the  fire. 

“ What  ho ! Sally ! ” came  in  cheerful  if  none  too 
melodious  accents  from  the  coffee-room  close  by. 

“ Lud  bless  my  soul ! ” exclaimed  Sally,  with  a good- 
humoured  laugh,  “what  be  they  all  wanting  now,  I 
wonder  1 ” 

“Beer,  of  course,”  grumbled  Jemima,  “you  don’t 
’xpect  Jimmy  Pitkin  to  ’ave  done  with  one  tankard,  do 
ye?” 

“ Mr  ’ Arry,  *e  looked  uncommon  thirsty  too,”  simpered 
Martha,  one  of  the  little  kitchen-maids ; and  her  beady 
black  eyes  twinkled  as  they  ma  those  of  her  companion, 


12 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


whereupon  both  started  on  a round  of  short  and  sup- 
pressed giggles. 

Sally  looked  cross  for  a moment,  and  thoughtfully 
rubbed  her  hands  against  her  shapely  hips ; her  palms  f| 
were  itching,  evidently,  to  come  in  contact  with  Martha’s 
rosy  cheeks — but  inherent  good-humour  prevailed,  and 
with  a pout  and  a shrug  of  the  shoulders,  she  turned  her 
attention  to  the  fried  potatoes. 

11  What  ho,  Sally!  hey,  Sally!” 

And  a chorus  of  pewter  mugs,  tapped  with  impatient 
hands  against  the  oak  tables  of  the  coffee-room,  accom- 
panied the  shouts  for  mine  host’s  buxom  daughter. 

“Sally!”  shouted  a more  persistent  voice,  “are  ye 
goin’  to  be  all  night  with  that  there  beer  ? ” 

“I  do  think  father  might  get  the  beer  for  them,” 
muttered  Sally,  as  Jemima,  stolidly  and  without  further 
comment,  took  a couple  of  foam-crowned  jugs  from  the 
shelf,  and  began  filling  a number  of  pewter  tankard* 
with  some  of  that  home-brewed  ale  for  which  “The 
Fisherman’s  Rest  ” had  been  famous  since  the  days  o' 
King  Charles.  “ ’E  knows  ’ow  busy  we  are  in  ’ere.” 

“ Your  father  is  too  busy  discussing  politics  with  M 
’Empseed  to  worry  ’isself  about  you  and  the  kitchen,’ 
grumbled  Jemima  under  her  breath. 

Sally  had  gone  to  the  small  mirror  which  hung  in  a 
corner  of  the  kitchen,  and  was  hastily  smoothing  her 
hair  and  setting  her  frilled  cap  at  its  most  becoming 
angle  over  her  dark  curls ; then  she  took  up  the  tankards 
by  their  handles,  three  in  each  strong,  brown  hand,  and 
laughing,  grumbling,  blushing,  carried  them  through 
into  the  coffee-room. 

There,  there  was  certainly  no  sign  of  that  bustle  and 
activity  which  kept  four  women  busy  and  hot  in  the 
glowing  kitchen  beyond. 


DOVER : “ THE  FISHERMAN’S  REST  * 1 1 

The  coffee-room  of  “The  Fisherman’s  Rest”  is  a 
show  place  now  at  the  beginning  of  the  twentieth  cen- 
tury. At  the  end  of  the  eighteenth,  in  the  year  of  grace 
1792,  it  had  not  yet  gained  that  notoriety  and  import- 
ance which  a hundred  additional  years  and  the  craze  of 
the  age  have  since  bestowed  upon  it.  Yet  it  was  an 
old  place,  even  then;  for  the  oak  rafters  and  beams  were 
already  black  with  age — as  were  the  panelled  seats,  with 
their  tall  backs,  and  the  long  polished  tables  between, 
on  which  innumerable  pewter  tankards  had  left  fantastic 
patterns  of  many-sized  rings.  In  the  leaded  window, 
high  up,  a row  of  pots  of  scarlet  geraniums  and  blue 
larkspur  gave  the  bright  note  of  colour  against  the  dull 
background  of  the  oak. 

That  Mr  Jellyband,  landlord  of  “ The  Fisherman’s 
Rest”  at  Dover,  was  a prosperous  man,  was  of  course 
clear  to  the  most  casual  observer.  The  pewter  on  the 
fine  old  dressers,  the  brass  above  the  gigantic  hearth, 
shone  like  gold  and  silver — the  red-tiled  floor  was  as 
brilliant  as  the  scarlet  geranium  on  the  window  sill — 
this  meant  that  his  servants  were  good  and  plentiful,  that 
the  custom  was  constant,  and  of  that  order  which  neces- 
sitated the  keeping  up  of  the  coffee-room  to  a high 
standard  of  elegance  and  order. 

As  Sally  came  in,  laughing  through  her  frowns,  and 
displaying  a row  of  dazzling  white  teeth,  she  was  greeted 
with  shouts  and  chorus  of  applause. 

“Why,  here’s  Sally!  What  ho,  Sally!  Hurrah  for 
pretty  Sally ! ” 

“ I thought  you’d  grown  deaf  in  that  kitchen  of  yours,” 
muttered  Jimmy  Pitkin,  as  he  passed  the  back  of  his 
hand  across  his  very  dry  lips. 

“ All  ri’ ! all  ri’ ! ” laughed  Sally,  as  she  deposited  the 
freshly-filled  tankards  upon  the  tables,  “why,  what  a 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


14 

’urry,  to  be  sure ! And  is  your  gran’mother  a-dyin',  an1 
you  wantin’  to  see  the  pore  soul  afore  sbe’m  gone ! I 
never  see’d  such  a mighty  rushin’ ! ” 

A chorus  of  good-humoured  laughter  greeted  this 
witticism,  which  gave  the  company  there  present,  food 
for  many  jokes,  for  some  considerable  time.  Sally  now 
seemed  in  less  of  a hurry  to  get  back  to  her  pots  and 
pans.  A young  man  with  fair  curly  hair,  and  eager, 
bright  blue  eyes,  was  engaging  most  of  her  attention 
and  the  whole  of  her  time,  whilst  broad  witticisms  anent 
Jimmy  Pitkin’s  fictitious  grandmother  flew  from  mouth 
to  mouth,  mixed  with  heavy  puffs  of  pungent  tobacco 
%moke. 

Facing  the  hearth,  his  legs  wide  apart,  a long  clay 
pipe  in  his  mouth,  stood  mine  host  himself,  worthy  Mr 
Jellyband,  landlord  of  “The  Fisherman’s  Rest,”  as  his 
father  had  been  before  him,  aye,  and  his  grandfather 
and  great-grandfather  too,  for  that  matter.  Portly  in 
build,  jovial  in  countenance  and  somewhat  bald  of  pate, 
Mr  Jellyband  was  indeed  a typical  rural  John  Bull  of 
those  days — the  days  when  our  prejudiced  insularity 
was  at  its  height,  when  to  an  Englishman,  be  he  lord, 
yeoman,  or  peasant,  the  whole  of  the  continent  of 
Europe  was  a den  of  immorality,  and  the  rest  of  the 
world  an  unexploited  land  of  savages  and  cannibals. 

There  he  stood,  mine  worthy  host,  firm  and  well  set 
up  on  his  limbs,  smoking  his  long  churchwarden  and 
caring  nothing  for  nobody  at  home,  and  despising 
everybody  abroad.  He  wore  the  typical  scarlet  waist- 
coat, with  shiny  brass  buttons,  tb*.  corduroy  breeches, 
the  grey  worsted  stockings  and  smart  buckled  shoes, 
that  characterised  every  self-respecting  innkeeper  in 
Great  Britain  in  these  days— and  while  pretty,  motherless 
Sally  had  need  of  four  pairs  of  brown  hands  to  do  all  the 


DOVER:  “THE  FISHERMAN’S  REST*  15 

work  that  fell  on  her  shapely  shoulders,  worthy  Jelly- 
band  discussed  the  affairs  of  nations  with  his  most 
privileged  guests. 

The  coffee-room  indeed,  lighted  by  two  well-polished 
lamps,  which  hung  from  the  raftered  ceiling,  looked 
cheerful  and  cosy  in  the  extreme.  Through  the  dense 
clouds  of  tobacco  smoke  that  hung  about  in  every 
corner,  the  faces  of  Mr  Jelly  band’s  customers  appeared 
red  and  pleasant  to  look  at,  and  on  good  terms  with 
themselves,  their  host  and  all  the  world ; from  every 
side  of  the  room  loud  guffaws  accompanied  pleasant,  if 
not  highly  intellectual,  conversation — while  Sally’s  re- 
peated giggles  testified  to  the  good  use  Mr  Harry  Waite 
was  making  of  the  short  time  she  seemed  inclined  to 
spare  him. 

They  were  mostly  fisher-folk  who  patronised  Mr 
Jellyband’s  coffee-room,  but  fishermen  are  known  to 
be  very  thirsty  people ; the  salt  which  they  breathe  in, 
when  they  are  on  the  sea,  accounts  for  their  parched 
throats  when  onshore.  But  “The  Fisherman’s  Rest” 
was  something  more  than  a rendezvous  for  these  humble 
folk.  The  London  and  Dover  coach  started  from  the 
hostel  daily,  and  passengers  who  had  come  across  the 
Channel,  and  those  who  started  for  the  “ grand  tour,f> 
all  became  acquainted  with  Mr  Jelly  band,  his  French 
wines  and  his  home-brewed  ales. 

It  was  towards  the  close  of  September  179a,  aad  the 
weather  which  had  been  brilliant  and  hot  throughout 
the  month  had  suddenly  broken  up;  for  two  days 
torrents  of  rain  had  deluged  the  south  of  England, 
doing  its  level  best  to  ruin  what  chances  the  apples 
and  pears  and  late  plums  had  of  becoming  really 
fine,  self-respecting  fruit.  Even  now  it  was  beating 
against  the  leaded  windows,  and  tumbling  down  the 


10  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

chimney,  making  the  cheerful  wood  fire  sizzle  in  the 
hearth. 

“ Lud ! did  you  ever  see  such  a wet  September,  Mr 
Jellyband?''  asked  Mr  Hempseed. 

He  sat  in  one  of  the  seats  inside  the  hearth,  did  Mr 
Hempseed,  for  he  was  an  authority  and  an  important  per- 
sonage not  only  at  “The  Fisherman's  Rest,"  where  Mr 
Jellyband  always  made  a special  selection  of  him  as  a 
foil  for  political  arguments,  but  throughout  the  neigh- 
bourhood, where  his  learning  and  notably  his  knowledge 
of  the  Scriptures,  was  held  in  the  most  profound  awe 
and  respect.  With  one  hand  buried  in  the  capacious 
pockets  of  his  corduroys  underneath  his  elaborately- 
worked,  well-worn  smock,  the  other  holding  his  long 
clay  pipe,  Mr  Hempseed  sat  there  looking  dejectedly 
across  the  room  at  the  rivulets  of  moisture  which 
trickled  down  the  window  panes. 

“No,”  replied  Mr  Jellyband-  sententiously,  “ I dunno, 
Mr  'Empseed,  as  I ever  did.  An’  I’ve  been  in  these 
parts  nigh  on  sixty  years.” 

“ Aye  ! you  wouldn't  rec’llect  the  first  three  years  o i 
them  sixty,  Mr  Jellyband,”  quietly  interposed  Mr  Hemp- 
seed. “ I dunno  as  I ever  see’d  an  infant  take  much 
note  of  the  weather,  leastways  not  in  these  parts,  an’ 
lived  'ere  nigh  on  seventy-five  years,  Mr  Jellyband.” 

The  superiority  of  this  wisdom  was  so  incontestable 
that  for  the  moment  Mr  Jellyband  was  not  ready  with 
his  usual  flow  of  argument. 

“ It  do  seem  more  like  April  than  September,  don't 
it  ? ” continued  Mr  Hempseed,  dolefully,  as  a shower  of 
rain-dH'ps  fell  with  a sizzle  upon  the  fire. 

“Aye!  that  it  do,”  assented  the  worthy  host,  “but 
then  what  can  you  'xpect,  Mr  'Empseed,  I says,  with 
tich  a government  as  we've  got?" 


DOVER:  “THE  FISHERMAN’S  REST ” 17 

Mr  Hempseed  shook  his  head  with  an  infinity  of 
wisdom,  tempered  by  deeply-rooted  mistrust  of  the 
British  climate  and  the  British  Government 

“I  don’t  ’xpect  nothing,  Mr  Jelly  band,”  he  said. 
'*  Pore  folks  like  us  is  of  no  account  up  there  in  Lunnon, 
I knows  that,  and  it’s  not  often  as  I do  complain.  But 
when  it  comes  to  sich  wet  weather  in  September,  and  all 
me  fruit  a-rottin’  and  a-dyin’  like  the  ’Guptian  mother’s 
first-born,  and  doin’  no  more  good  than  they  did,  pore 
dears,  save  to  a lot  of  Jews,  pedlars  and  sich,  with 
their  oranges  and  sich  like  foreign  ungodly  fruit,  which 
nobody’d  buy  if  English  apples  and  pears  was  nicely 
swelled.  As  the  Scriptures  say — 

“That’s  quite  right,  Mr  ’Empseed,”  retorted  Jelly- 
band  “ and  as  I says,  what  can  you  ’xpect  ? There’s 
all  them  Frenchy  devils  over  the  Channel  yonder  a- 
murderin’  their  king  and  nobility,  and  Mr  Pitt  and  Mr 
Fox  and  Mr  Burke  a-fightin’  and  a- wranglin’  between 
them,  if  we  Englishmen  should  ’low  them  to  go  on  in 
their  ungodly  way.  ‘ Let  ’em  murder ! ’ says  Mr  Pitt. 
‘Stop  ’em !’  says  Mr  Burke.” 

“ And  let  ’em  murder,  says  I,  and  be  demmed  to  ’em,” 
said  Mr  Hempseed,  emphatically,  for  he  had  but  little 
liking  for  his  friend  Jellyband’s  political  arguments, 
wherein  he  always  got  out  of  his  depth,  and  had  but 
little  chance  for  displaying  those  pearls  of  wisdom  which 
had  earned  for  him  so  high  a reputation  in  the  neigh- 
bourhood and  so  many  free  tankards  of  ale  at  “ The 
Fisherman’s  Rest.” 

“Let  ’em  murder,”  he  repeated  again,  “but  don’t  let’* 
’ave  sich  rain  in  September,  for  that  is  agin  the  law  and 
the  Scriptures  which  says — ” 

“ Lud  1 Mr  ’Arry,  ’ow  you  made  me  jump  ! ” 

It  was  unfortunate  for  Sally  and  her  flirtation  that  this 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


iS 

remark  of  hers  should  have  occurred  at  the  precise 
moment  when  Mr  Hempseed  was  collecting  his  breath, 
in  order  to  deliver  himself  of  one  of  those  Scriptural 
utterances  which  had  made  him  famous,  for  it  brought 
down  upon  her  pretty  head  the  full  flood  of  her  father’s 
wrath. 

“ Now  then,  Sally,  me  girl,  now  then  ! " he  said,  trying 
to  force  a frown  upon  his  good-humoured  face,  “ stop 
that  fooling  with  them  young  jackanapes  and  get  on 
with  the  work.” 

“ The  work’s  gettin’  on  all  ri%  father.” 

But  Mr  Jelly  band  was  peremptory.  He  had  other 
views  for  his  buxom  daughter,  his  only  child,  who  would 
in  God’s  good  time  become  the  owner  of  “ The  Fisher- 
man’s Rest,”  than  to  see  her  married  to  one  of  these 
young  fellows  who  earned  but  a precarious  livelihood 
with  their  net. 

“ Did  ye  hear  me  speak,  me  girl  ? ” he  said  in  that 
quiet  tone,  which  no  one  inside  the  inn  dared  to  disobey. 
“Get  on  with  my  Lord  Tony’s  supper,  for,  if  it  ain’t  the 
best  we  can  do,  and  ’e  not  satisfied,  see  what  you’ll  get, 
that’s  all.” 

Reluctantly  Sally  obeyed. 

“Is  you’xpecting  special  guests  then  to-night,  Mr 
Jellyband?”  asked  Jimmy  Pitkin,  in  a loyal  attempt  to 
divert  his  host’s  attention  from  the  circumstances  con- 
nected with  Sally’s  exit  from  the  room. 

“Aye!  that  I be,”  replied  Jellyband,  “friends  of  my 
Lord  Tony  hisself.  Dukes  and  duchesses  from  over  the 
water  yonder,  whom  the  young  lord  and  his  friend,  Sir 
Andrew  Ffoulkes,  and  other  young  noblemen  have 
helped  out  of  the  clutches  of  them  murderin'  devils.” 

But  this  was  too  much  for  Mr  Hempseed’s  querulous 
philosophy. 


DOVER  : “ THE  FISHERMAN'S  REST  ” 19 

“ Lud ! ” he  said,  M what  they  do  that  for,  I wonder  ? 
I don’t  'old  not  with  interferin'  in  other  folks’  ways.  As 
the  Scriptures  say — " 

“Maybe,  Mr  'Empseed,”  interrupted  Jellyband, 
with  biting  sarcasm,  “ as  you’re  a personal  friend  of  Mr 
Pitt,  and  as  you  says  along  with  Mr  Fox:  ‘Let  ’em 
murder ! ’ says  you. " 

“Pardon  me,  Mr  Jellyband,"  feebly  protested  Mr 
Hempseed,  “I  dunno  as  I ever  did.” 

But  Mr  Jellyband  had  at  last  succeeded  in  getting 
upon  his  favourite  hobby-horse,  and  had  no  intention  of 
dismounting  in  any  hurry. 

“Or  maybe  you’ve  made  friends  with  some  of  them 
French  chaps  ’00  they  do  say  have  come  over  here  o’  pur- 
pose to  make  us  Englishmen  agree  with  their  murderin’ 

ways.” 

“I  dunno  what  you  mean,  Mr  Jellyband,”  suggested 
Mr  Hempseed,  “all  I know  is — " 

“All  / know  is,”  loudly  asserted  mine  host,  “that 
there  was  my  friend  Peppercorn,  ’00  owns  the  ‘ Blue- 
Faced  Boar,’  an’  as  true  and  loyal  an  Englishman  as 
you’d  see  in  the  land.  And  now  look  at  ’im  ! — ’E  made 
friends  with  some  o’  them  frog-eaters,  ’obnobbed  with 
them  just  as  if  they  was  Englishmen,  and  not  just  a lot 
of  immoral,  God-forsaking  furrin’  spies.  Well  1 and 
what  happened  ? Peppercorn  'e  now  ups  and  talks  of 
revolutions,  and  liberty,  and  down  with  the  aristocrats, 
just  like  Mr  ’Empseed  over  ’ere  ! ” 

“Pardon  me,  Mr  Jellyband,”  again  interposed  Mr 
Hempseed,  feebly,  “ I dunno  as  I ever  did — ” 

Mr  Jellyband  had  appealed  to  the  company  in  general, 
who  were  listening  awe-struck  and  open-mouthed  at  the 
recital  of  Mr  Peppercorn’s  defalcations.  At  one  table 
two  customers — gentlemen  apparently  by  their  clothes 


20 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


—had  pushed  aside  their  half-finished  game  of  dominoes* 
and  had  been  listening  for  some  time,  and  evidently 
with  much  amusement  at  Mr  Jelly  band’s  international 
opinions.  One  of  them  now,  with  a quiet,  sarcastic 
smile  still  lurking  round  the  corners  of  his  mobile 
mouth,  turned  towards  the  centre  of  the  room  where 
Mr  Jelly  band  was  standing. 

“You  seem  to  think,  mine  honest  friend,”  he  said 
quietly,  “that  these  Frenchmen — spies  I think  you 
called  them — are  mighty  clever  fellows  to  have  made 
mincemeat  so  to  speak  of  your  friend  Mr  Peppercorn’s 
opinions.  How  did  they  accomplish  that  now,  think  you  ? " 

“Lud!  sir,  I suppose  they  talked  ’im  over.  Those 
Frenchies,  I’ve  ’eard  it  said,  ’ave  got  the  gift  of  the  gab 
— and  Mr  ’Empsced  ’ere  will  tell  you  ’ow  it  is  that  they 
just  twist  some  people  round  their  little  finger  like.” 

“ Indeed,  and  is  that  so,  Mr  Hempseed  ? ” inquired 
the  stranger  politely. 

“ Nay,  sir ! ” replied  Mr  Hempseed,  much  irritated, 
“I  dunno  as  I can  give  you  the  information  you 
require.” 

“Faith,  then,”  said  the  stranger,  “let  us  hope,  my 
worthy  host,  that  these  clever  spies  will  not  succeed  in 
upsetting  your  extremely  loyal  opinions.” 

But  this  was  too  much  for  Mr  Jelly  band’s  pleasant 
equanimity.  He  burst  into  an  uproarious  fit  of  laughter, 
which  was  soon  echoed  by  those  who  happened  to  be  in 
his  debt. 

“ Hahaha ! hohoho  ! hehehe ! ” He  laughed  in  every 
key,  did  my  worthy  host,  and  laughed  until  his  sides 
ached,  and  his  eyes  streamed.  “ At  me ! hark  at  that ! 
Did  ye  ’ear  'im  say  that  they’d  be  upsettin’  my  opinions  ? 
— Eh  ? — Lud  love  you,  sir,  but  you  do  say  some  queer 
things." 


DOVER : “THE  FISHERMAN’S  REST » m 


“Well,  Mr  Jelly  band,”  said  Mr  Hempseed,  senten* 
tiously,  “ you  know  what  the  Scriptures  say : ‘ Let  'im 
’oo  stands  take  ’eed  lest  ’e  fell.’  * 

“But  then  hark’ee,  Mr ’Empseed,” retorted  Jellyband, 
still  holding  his  sides  with  laughter,  “ the  Scriptures 
didn’t  know  me.  Why,  I wouldn’t  so  much  as  drink  a 
glass  of  ale  with  one  o’  them  murderin’  Frenchmen,  and 
nothin’ ’d  make  me  change  my  opinions.  Why  1 I’ve 
’eard  it  said  that  them  frog-eaters  can’t  even  speak  the 
King’s  English,  so,  of  course,  if  any  of  ’em  tried  to 
speak  their  God-forsaken  lingo  to  me,  why,  I should 
spot  them  directly,  see ! — and  forewarned  is  forearmed, 
as  the  saying  goes.” 

“Aye!  my  honest  friend,”  assented  the  stranger 
cheerfully,  “ I see  that  you  are  much  too  sharp,  and  a 
match  for  any  twenty  Frenchmen,  and  here’s  to  your 
very  good  health,  my  worthy  host,  if  you’ll  do  me  the 
honour  to  finish  this  bottle  of  mine  with  me.” 

“I  am  sure  you’re  very  polite,  sir,”  said  Mr  Jellyband, 
wiping  his  eyes  which  were  still  streaming  with  the 
abundance  of  his  laughter,  “ and  I don’t  mind  if  I do.” 

The  stranger  poured  out  a couple  of  tankards  full  of 
wine,  and  having  offered  one  to,  mine  host,  he  took  the 
other  himself. 

“Loyal  Englishmen  as  we  all  are,”  he  said,  whilst  the 
same  humorous  smile  played  round  the  corners  of  his 
thin  lips — “ loyal  as  we  are,  we  must  admit  that  this  at 
least  is  one  good  thing  which  comes  to  us  from  France.” 

“ Aye  ! we’ll  none  of  us  deny  that,  sir,”  assented  mine 
host. 

“And  here's  to  the  best  landlord  in  England,  our 
worthy  host,  Mr  Jellyband,”  said  the  stranger  in  a loud 
tone  of  voice. 

“Hip,  hip,  hurrah!”  retorted  the  whole  company 


22 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


/ 


present.  Then  there  was  loud  clapping  of  hands,  and 
mugs  and  tankards  made  a rattling  music  upon  the 
tables  to  the  accompaniment  of  loud  laughter  at  nothing 
in  particular,  and  of  Mr  Jelly  band’s  muttered  exclama- 
tions: 

“Just  fancy  me  bein’  talked  over  by  any  God-forsaken 
furriner! — What? — Lud  love  you,  sir,  but  yon  do  say 
some  queer  things.’* 

To  which  obvious  fact  the  stranger  heartily  assented. 
It  was  certainly  a preposterous  suggestion  that  anyone 
could  ever  upset  Mr  Jellyband’s  firmly-rooted  opinions 
anent  the  utter  worthlessness  of  the  inhabitants  of  tha 
whole  continent  of  Europe. 


CHAPTER  III 


THE  REFUGEES 

Feeling  in  every  part  of  England  certainly  ran  very 
high  at  this  time  against  the  French  and  their  doings. 
Smugglers  and  legitimate  traders  between  the  French 
and  English  coasts  brought  snatches  of  news  from  over 
the  water,  which  made  every  honest  Englishman’s  blood 
boil,  and  made  him  long  to  have  “ a good  go  ” at  those 
murderers,  who  had  imprisoned  their  king  and  all  his 
family,  subjected  the  queen  and  the  royal  children  to 
every  species  of  indignity,  and  were  even  now  loudly 
demanding  the  blood  of  the  whole  Bourbon  family  and 
of  every  one  of  its  adherents. 

The  execution  of  the  Princesse  de  Lamballe,  Marie 
Antoinette’s  young  and  charming  friend,  had  filled  every 
one  in  England  with  unspeakable  horror,  the  daily 
execution  of  scores  of  royalists  of  good  family,  whose 
only  sin  was  their  aristocratic  name,  seemed  to  cry  for 
vengeance  to  the  whole  of  civilised  Europe. 

Yet,  with  all  that,  no  one  dared  to  interfere.  Burke 
had  exhausted  all  his  eloquence  in  trying  to  induce  the 
British  Government  to  fight  the  revolutionary  govern- 
ment of  France,  but  Mr  Pitt,  with  characteristic  prudence, 
did  not  feel  that  this  country  was  fit  yet  to  embark  on 
another  ardupus  and  costly  war.  It  was  for  Austria  to 
take  the  initiative ; Austria,  whose  fairest  daughter  was 
«3 


24 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


even  now  a dethroned  queen,  imprisoned  and  insulted 
by  a howling  mob:  and  surely  ’twas  not — so  argued 
Mr  Fox — for  the  whole  of  England  to  take  up  arms, 
because  one  set  of  Frenchmen  chose  to  murder  another. 

As  for  Mr  Jellyband  and  his  fellow  John  Bulls,  though 
they  looked  upon  all  foreigners  with  withering  contempt, 
they  were  royalist  and  anti-revolutionists  to  a man,  and 
at  this  present  moment  were  furious  with  Pitt  for  his 
caution  and  moderation,  although  they  naturally  under- 
stood nothing  of  the  diplomatic  reasons  which  guided 
that  great  man’s  policy. 

But  now  Sally  came  running  back,  very  excited  and 
very  eager.  The  joyous  company  in  the  coffee-room 
had  heard  nothing  of  the  noise  outside,  but  she  had 
spied  a dripping  horse  and  rider  who  had  stopped  at  the 
door  of  “The  Fisherman’s  Rest,”  and  while  the  stable 
boy  ran  forward  to  take  charge  of  the  horse,  pretty  Miss 
Sally  went  to  the  front  door  to  greet  the  welcome  visitor. 

“ I think  I see’d  my  Lord  Antony’s  horse  out  in  the 
yard,  father,”  she  said,  as  she  ran  across  the  coffee-room. 

But  already  the  door  had  been  thrown  open  from  out- 
side, and  the  next  moment  an  arm,  covered  in  drab  cloth 
and  dripping  with  the  heavy  rain,  was  round  pretty 
Sally’s  waist,  while  a hearty  voice  echoed  along  the 
polished  rafters  of  the  coffee-room. 

“ Aye,  and  bless  your  brown  eyes  for  being  so  sharp, 
my  pretty  Sally,”  said  the  man  who  had  just  entered, 
whilst  worthy  Mr  Jellyband  came  bustling  forward, 
eager,  alert  and  fussy,  as  became  the  advent  of  one  of 
the  most  favoured  guests  of  his  hostel. 

“ Lud,  I protest,  Sally,”  added  Lord  Antony,  as  he 
deposited  a kiss  on  Miss  Sally’s  blooming  cheeks,  “ but 
you  are  growing  prettier  and  prettier  every  time  I see 
you — and  my  honest  friend,  Jellyband  here,  must  have 


THE  REFUGEES 


hard  work  to  keep  the  fellows  off  that  slim  waist  of 
yours.  What  say  you,  Mr  Waite  ? ” 

Mr  Waite — torn  between  his  respect  for  my  lord  and 
his  dislike  of  that  particular  type  of  joke — only  replied 
with  a doubtful  grunt. 

Lord  Antony  Dewhurst,  one  of  the  sons  of  the  Duke 
of  Exeter,  was  in  those  days  a very  perfect  type  of  a 
young  English  gentleman — tall,  well  set-up,  broad  of 
shoulders  and  merry  of  face,  his  laughter  rang  loudly 
wherever  he  went.  A good  sportsman,  a lively  com- 
panion, a courteous,  well-bred  man  of  the  world,  with 
not  too  much  brains  to  spoil  his  temper,  he  was  a 
universal  favourite  in  London  drawing-rooms  or  in  the 
coffee-rooms  of  village  inns.  At  “ The  Fisherman’s  Rest  ” 
everyone  knew  him — for  he  was  fond  of  a trip  across  to 
France,  and  always  spent  a night  under  worthy  Mr 
Jellyband’s  roof  on  his  way  there  or  back. 

He  nodded  to  Waite,  Pitkin  and  the  others  as  he  at 
last  released  Sally’s  waist,  and  crossed  over  to  the  hearth 
to  warm  and  dry  himself : as  he  did  so,  he  cast  a quick, 
somewhat  suspicious  glance  at  the  two  strangers,  who 
had  quietly  resumed  their  game  of  dominoes,  and  for  a 
moment  a look  of  deep  earnestness,  even  of  anxiety, 
clouded  his  jovial  young  face. 

But  only  for  a moment ; the  next  he  had  turned  to 
Mr  Hempseed,  who  was  respectfully  touching  his 
forelock. 

“Well,  Mr  Hempseed,  and  how  is  the  fruit?” 

“ Badly,  my  lord,  badly,”  replied  Mr  Hempseed,  dole- 
fully, “but  what  can  you  ’xpect  with  this  ’ere  govern- 
ment favourin’  them  rascals  over  in  France,  who  would 
murder  their  king  and  all  their  nobility.” 

“ Odd’s  life  ! ” retorted  Lord  Antony  ; “ so  they  would, 
honest  Hempseed, — at  least  those  they  can  get  hold  of, 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


worse  luck  ! But  we  have  got  some  friends  coming  here 
to-night,  who  at  anyrate  have  evaded  their  clutches.” 

It  almost  seemed,  when  the  young  man  said  these 
words,  as  if  he  threw  a defiant  look  towards  the  quiet 
strangers  in  the  corner. 

“ Thanks  to  you,  my  lord,  and  to  your  friends,  so  I’ve 
heard  it  said,”  said  Mr  Jelly  band. 

But  in  a moment  Lord  Antony’s  hand  fell  warningly 
on  mine  host’s  arm. 

“ Hush  ! ” he  said  peremptorily,  and  instinctively  once 
again  looked  towards  the  strangers. 

“ Oh ! Lud  love  you,  they  are  all  right,  my  lord,” 
retorted  Jellyband ; “don’t  you  be  afraid.  I wouldn’t 
have  spoken,  only  I knew  we  were  among  friends.  That 
gentleman  over  there  is  as  true  and  loyal  a subject  of 
King  George  as  you  are  yourself,  my  lord,  saving  your 
presence.  He  is  but  lately  arrived  in  Dover,  and  is 
settling  down  in  business  in  these  parts.” 

“In  business?  Faith,  then,  it  must  be  as  an  under- 
taker, for  I vow  I never  beheld  a more  rueful  coun- 
tenance.” 

“Nay,  my  lord,  I believe  that  the  gentleman  is  a 
widower,  which  no  doubt  would  account  for  the  melan- 
choly of  his  bearing — but  he  is  a friend,  nevertheless,  111 
vouch  for  that — and  you  will  own,  my  lord,  that  who 
should  judge  of  a face  better  than  the  landlord  of  a 
popular  inn — ” 

“Oh,  that’s  all  right,  then,  if  we  are  among  friends,” 
said  Lord  Antony,  who  evidently  did  not  care  to  discuss 
the  subject  with  his  host.  “ But,  tell  me,  you  have  no 
one  else  staying  here,  have  you  ? ” 

“No  one,  my  lord,  and  no  one  coming,  either,  lea* 
ways — ” 

“ Leastways  ? " 


THE  REFUGEES  27 

“ No  one  your  lordship  would  object  to,  I know.” 

“Who  is  it?” 

“Well,  my  lord,  Sir  Percy  Blakeney  and  his  lady  will 
be  here  presently,  but  they  ain’t  a-goin’  to  stay — ” 

“Lady  Blakeney?”  queried  Lord  Antony,  in  some 
astonishment. 

“Aye,  my  lord.  Sir  Percy’s  skipper  was  here  just 
now.  He  says  that  my  lady’s  brother  is  crossing  over  ’ 
to  France  to-day  in  the  Day  Dream , which  is  Sir  Percy’s 
yacht,  and  Sir  Percy  and  my  lady  will  come  with  him  as 
far  as  here  to  see  the  last  of  him.  It  don’t  put  you  out, 
do  it,  my  lord  ? ” 

“No,  no,  it  doesn’t  put  me  out,  friend;  nothing  will 
put  me  out,  unless  that  supper  is  not  the  very  best  which 
Miss  Sally  can  cook,  and  which  has  ever  been  served  in 
1 The  Fisherman’s  Rest.’  ” 

“ You  need  have  no  fear  of  that,  my  lord,”  said  Sally, 
who  all  this  while  had  been  busy  setting  the  table  for 
supper.  And  very  gay  and  inviting  it  looked,  with  a 
large  bunch  of  brilliantly  coloured  dahlias  in  the  centre, 
and  the  bright  pewter  goblets  and  blue  china  about. 

“ How  many  shall  I lay  for,  my  lord  ? ” 

“Five  places,  pretty  Sally,  but  let  the  supper  be 
enough  for  ten  at  least — our  friends  will  be  tired,  and, 

I hope,  hungry.  As  for  me,  I vow  I could  demolish  a 
baron  of  beef  to-night.” 

“ Here  they  are,  I do  believe,”  said  Sally,  excitedly, 
as  a distant  clatter  of  horses  and  wheels  could  now  be 
distinctly  heard,  drawing  rapidly  nearer. 

There  was  general  commotion  in  the  coffee-room. 
Everyone  was  curious  to  see  my  Lord  Antony’s  swell 
friends  from  over  the  water.  Miss  Sally  cast  one  or  two 
quick  glances  at  the  little  bit  of  mirror  which  hung  on 
the  wall,  and  worthy  Mr  Jelly  band  bustled  out  in  order 


2 8 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


to  give  the  first  welcome  himself  to  his  distinguished 
guests.  Only  the  two  strangers  in  the  corner  did  not 
participate  in  the  general  excitement.  They  were 
calmly  finishing  their  game  of  dominoes,  and  did  not 
even  look  once  towards  the  door. 

“ Straight  ahead,  Comtesse,  the  door  on  your  right/' 
said  a pleasant  voice  outside. 

“ Aye ! there  they  are,  all  right  enough,”  said  Lord 
Antony,  joyfully ; “ off  with  you,  my  pretty  Sally,  and  see 
how  quickly  you  can  dish  up  the  soup.” 

The  door  was  thrown  wide  open,  and,  preceded  by 
Mr  Jellyband,  who  was  profuse  in  his  bows  and 
welcomes,  a party  of  four — two  ladies  and  two  gentle- 
men— entered  the  coffee-room. 

‘‘Welcome!  Welcome  to  old  England!”  said  Lord 
Antony,  effusively,  as  he  came  eagerly  forward  with  both 
hands  outstretched  towards  the  newcomers. 

“ Ah,  you  are  Lord  Antony  Dewhurst,  I think,”  said 
one  of  the  ladies,  speaking  with  a strong  foreign  accent. 

“ At  your  service,  Madame,”  he  replied,  as  he 
ceremoniously  kissed  the  hands  of  both  the  ladies, 
then  turned  to  the  men  and  shook  them  both  warmly 
by  the  hand. 

Sally  was  already  helping  the  ladies  to  take  off  their 
travelling  cloaks,  and  both  turned,  with  a shiver,  towards 
the  brightly-blazing  hearth. 

There  was  a general  movement  among  the  company 
in  the  coffee-room.  Sally  had  bustled  off  to  her 
kitchen,  whilst  Jellyband,  still  profuse  with  his  respect- 
ful salutations,  arranged  one  or  two  chairs  around  the  fire. 
Mr  Hempseed,  touching  his  forelock,  was  quietly 
vacating  the  seat  in  the  hearth.  Everyone  was  staring 
curiously,  yet  deferentially,  at  the  foreigners. 

“ Ah,  Messieurs ! what  can  I say  ? ” said  the  elder  of 


THE  REFUGEES 


29 

the  two  ladies,  as  she  stretched  a pair  of  fine,  aristocratic 
hands  to  the  warmth  of  the  blaze,  and  looked  with  un- 
speakable gratitude  first  at  Lord  Antony,  then  at  one  of 
the  young  men  who  had  accompanied  her  party,  and 
who  was  busy  divesting  himself  of  his  heavy,  caped  coat. 

“ Only  that  you  are  glad  to  be  in  England,  Comtesse,” 
replied  Lord  Antony,  “ and  that  you  have  not  suffered 
too  much  from  your  trying  voyage.” 

“ Indeed,  indeed,  we  are  glad  to  be  in  England,”  she 
said,  while  her  eyes  filled  with  tears,  “ and  we  have 
already  forgotten  all  that  we  have  suffered.” 

Her  voice  was  musical  and  low,  and  there  was  a 
great  deal  of  calm  dignity  and  of  many  sufferings  nobly 
endured  marked  in  the  handsome,  aristocratic  face, 
with  its  wealth  of  snow-white  hair  dressed  high  above 
the  forehead,  after  the  fashion  of  the  times. 

“ I hope  my  friend,  Sir  Andrew  Ffoulkes,  proved  an 
entertaining  travelling  companion,  madame  ? ” 

“Ah,  indeed,  Sir  Andrew  was  kindness  itself.  How 
could  my  children  and  I ever  show  enough  gratitude  to 
you  all,  Messieurs  ? ” 

Her  companion,  a dainty,  girlish  figure,  childlike  and 
pathetic  in  its  look  of  fatigue  and  of  sorrow,  had  said 
nothing  as  yet,  but  her  eyes,  large,  brown,  and  full  of 
tears,  looked  up  from  the  fire  and  sought  those  of  Sir 
Andrew  Ffoulkes,  who  had  drawn  near  to  the  hearth 
and  to  her;  then,  as  they  met  his,  which  were  fixed 
with  unconcealed  admiration  upon  the  sweet  face 
before  him,  a thought  of  warmer  colour  rushed  up  to 
her  pale  cheeks. 

“So  this  is  England,”  she  said,  as  she  looked  round 
with  childlike  curiosity  at  the  great  open  hearth,  the  oak 
rafters,  and  the  yokels  with  their  elaborate  smocks  and 
jovial,  rubicund,  British  countenances. 


30 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


“A  bit  of  it,  Mademoiselle,”  replied  Sir  Andrew, 
smiling,  “ but  all  of  it,  at  your  service.” 

The  young  girl  blushed  again,  but  this  time  a bright 
smile,  fleet  and  sweet,  illumined  her  dainty  face.  She 
said  nothing,  and  Sir  Andrew  too,  was  silent,  yet  those 
two  young  people  understood  one  another,  as  young 
people  have  a way  of  doing  all  the  world  over,  and  have 
done  since  the  world  began. 

“ But,  I say,  supper ! ” here  broke  in  Lord  Antony’s 
jovial  voice,  “supper,  honest  Jelly  band.  Where  is  that 
pretty  wench  of  yours  and  the  dish  of  soup  ? Zooks, 
man,  while  you  stand  there  gaping  at  the  ladies,  they 
will  faint  with  hunger.” 

“One  moment!  one  moment,  my  lord,”  said  Jelly- 
band,  as  he  threw  open  the  door  that  led  to  the  kitchen 
and  shouted  lustily : “ Sally ! Hey,  Sally  there,  are  ye 
ready,  my  girl  ? ” 

Sally  was  ready,  and  the  next  moment  she  appeared 
in  the  doorway  carrying  a gigantic  tureen,  from  which 
rose  a cloud  of  steam  and  an  abundance  of  savoury  odour. 

“ Odd’s  my  life,  supper  at  last ! ” ejaculated  Lord 
Antony,  merrily,  as  he  gallantly  offered  his  arm  to  the 
Comtesse. 

“ May  I have  the  honour  ? ” he  added  ceremoniously, 
as  he  led  her  towards  the  supper  table. 

There  was  general  bustle  in  the  coffee-room : Mr 
Hempseed  and  most  of  the  yokels  and  fisher-folk  had 
gone  to  make  way  for  “the  quality,”  and  to  finish 
smoking  their  pipes  elsewhere.  Only  the  two  strangers 
stayed  on,  quietly  and  unconcernedly  playing  their  game 
of  dominoes  and  sipping  their  wine ; whilst  at  another 
table  Harry  Waite,  who  was  fast  losing  his  temper, 
watched  pretty  Sally  bustling  round  the  table. 

She  looked  a very  dainty  picture  of  English  rural  life, 
And  no  wonder  that  the  susceptible  young  Frenchman 


THE  RE1/UGEES 


31 


could  scarce  take  his  eyes  off  her  pretty  face.  The 
Vicomte  de  Tournay  was  scarce  nineteen,  a beard- 
less boy,  on  whom  the  terrible  tragedies  which  were 
being  enacted  in  his  own  country  had  made  but  little 
impression.  He  was  elegantly,  and  even  foppishly 
dressed,  and  once  safely  landed  in  England  he  was 
evidently  ready  to  forget  the  horrors  of  the  Revolution 
in  the  delights  of  English  life. 

“Pardi,  if  zis  is  England,”  he  said  as  he  continued  to 
ogle  Sally  with  marked  satisfaction,  “ I am  of  it  satisfied,’* 

It  would  be  impossible  at  this  point  to  record  the 
exact  exclamation  which  escaped  through  Mr  Harry 
Waite’s  clenched  teeth.  Only  respect  for  “ the  quality,” 
and  notably  for  my  Lord  Antony,  kept  his  marked  dis- 
approval of  the  young  foreigner  in  check. 

“Nay,  but  this  is  England,  you  abandoned  young 
reprobate,”  interposed  Lord  Antony  with  a laugh,  “and 
do  not  I pray,  bring  your  loose  foreign  ways  into  this 
most  moral  country.” 

Lord  Antony  had  already  sat  down  at  the  head  of  the 
table  with  the  Comtesse  on  his  right.  Jelly  band  was 
bustling  round,  filling  glasses  and  putting  chairs  straight, 
Sally  waited,  ready  to  hand  round  the  soup.  Mr  Harry 
Waite’s  friends  had  at  last  succeeded  in  taking  him  out 
of  the  room,  for  his  temper  was  growing  more  and  more 
violent  under  the  Vicomte’s  obvious  admiration  for  Sally. 

“Suzanne,”  came  in  stern,  commanding  accents  from 
the  rigid  Comtesse. 

Suzanne  blushed  again ; she  had  lost  count  of  time  and 
of  place,  whilst  she  had  stood  beside  the  fire,  allowing 
the  handsome  young  Englishman’s  eyes  to  dwell  upon 
her  sweet  face,  and  his  hand,  as  if  unconsciously,  to  rest 
upon  hers.  Her  mother’s  voice  brought  her  back  to 
reality  once  more,  and  with  a submissive  “Yes,  Mama," 
»hc  too  took  her  place  at  the  supper  table. 


CHAPTER  IV 


THE  LEAGUE  OF  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

They  all  looked  a merry,  even  a happy  party,  as  they 
sat  round  the  table ; Sir  Andrew  Ffoulkes  and  Lord 
Antony  Dewhurst,  two  typical  good-looking,  well-born 
and  well-bred  Englishmen  of  that  year  of  grace  1792, 
and  the  aristocratic  French  comtesse  with  her  two 
children,  who  had  just  escaped  from  such  dire  perils,  and 
found  a safe  retreat  at  last  on  the  shores  of  protecting 
England. 

In  the  corner  the  two  strangers  had  apparently  finished 
their  game;  one  of  them  arose,  and  standing  with  his 
back  to  the  merry  company  at  the  table,  he  adjusted  with 
much  deliberation  his  large  triple  caped  coat.  As  he  did 
so,  he  gave  one  quick  glance  all  around  him.  Everyone 
was  busy  laughing  and  chatting,  and  he  murmured  the 
words  “ All  safe  ! ” : his  companion  then,  with  the  alertness 
borne  of  long  practice,  slipped  on  to  his  knees  in  a 
moment,  and  the  next  had  crept  noiselessly  under  the 
oak  bench.  The  stranger  then  with  a loud  “ Good-night,” 
quietly  walked  out  of  the  coffee-room. 

Not  one  of  those  at  the  supper  table  had  noticed  this 
curious  and  silent  manoeuvre,  but  when  the  stranger 
finally  closed  the  door  of  the  coffee-room  behind  him, 
they  all  instinctively  sighed  a sigh  of  relief. 

“ Alone,  at  last  I ” said  Lord  Antony,  jovially. 

Then  the  young  Vicomte  de  Tournay  rose,  glass  is 


LEAGUE  OF  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL  33 

hand,  and  with  the  graceful  affectation  peculiar  to  the 
times,  he  raised  it  aloft,  and  said  in  broken  English, — 

“ To  His  Majesty  George  Three  of  England.  God  bless 
him  for  his  hospitality  to  us  all,  poor  exiles  from  France.” 

“ His  Majesty  the  King  ! ” echoed  Lord  Antony  and 
Sir  Andrew  as  they  drank  loyally  to  the  toast 

“To  His  Majesty  King  Louis  of  France,”  added  Sir 
Andrew,  with  solemnity.  “ May  God  protect  him,  and 
give  him  victory  over  his  enemies.” 

Everyone  rose  and  drank  this  toast  in  silence.  The 
fate  of  the  unfortunate  King  of  France,  then  a prisoner 
of  his  own  people,  seemed  to  cast  a gloom  even  over 
Mr  Jellyband’s  pleasant  countenance. 

u And  to  M.  le  Comte  de  Tournay  de  Basserive,”  said 
Lord  Antony,  merrily.  “May  we  welcome  him  in 
England  before  many  days  are  over.” 

“Ah,  Monsieur,”  said  the  Comtesse,  as  with  a slightly 
trembling  hand  she  conveyed  her  glass  to  her  lips,  “ 1 
scarcely  dare  to  hope.” 

But  already  Lord  Antony  had  served  out  the  soup, 
and  for  the  next  few  moments  all  conversation  ceased, 
while  Jellyband  and  Sally  handed  round  the  plates  and 
everyone  began  to  eat. 

“ Faith,  Madame ! ” said  Lord  Antony,  after  a whilt, 
“mine  was  no  idle  toast;  seeing  yourself,  Mademoiselle 
Suzanne  and  my  friend  the  Yicomte  safely  in  England 
now,  surely  you  must  feel  reassured  as  to  the  rate  of 
Monsieur  le  Comte.” 

“Ah,  Monsieur,”  replied  the  Comtesse,  with  a heavy 
sigh,  “ I trust  in  God — I can  but  pray — and  hope  . . ” 
“ Aye,  Madame !”  here  interposed  Sir  Andrew  Ffoulkes, 
“ trust  in  God  by  all  means,  but  believe  also  a little  in  your 
English  friends,  who  have  sworn  to  bring  the  Count  safely 


34  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

across  the  Channel,  even  as  they  have  brought  yon 
to-day.” 

“Indeed,  indeed,  Monsieur,”  she  replied,  “I  have  the 
fullest  confidence  in  you  and  in  your  friends.  Your 
fame,  I assure  you,  has  spread  throughout  the  whole  of 
France.  The  way  some  of  my  own  friends  have  escaped 
from  the  clutches  of  that  awful  revolutionary  tribunal  was 
nothing  short  of  a miracle — and  all  done  by  you  and 
your  friends — ” 

“We  were  but  the  hands,  Madame  la  Com  tesse  . , . * 

“But  my  husband,  Monsieur,”  said  the  Comtesse, 
whilst  unshed  tears  seemed  to  veil  her  voice,  “ he  is  in 
such  deadly  peril — I would  never  have  left  him, 
only  . . . there  were  my  children  ...  I was  torn 
between  my  duty  to  him,  and  to  them.  They  refused  to  go 
without  me  . . . and  you  and  your  friends  assured  me 
so  solemnly  that  my  husband  would  be  safe.  But,  oh ! 
now  that  I am  here — amongst  you  all — in  this  beautiful, 
free  England — I think  of  him,  flying  for  his  life,  hunted 
like  a poor  beast  ...  in  such  peril.  . . . Ah  ! I should 
not  have  left  him  ...  I should  not  have  left  him  ! . . . ” 

The  poor  woman  had  completely  broken  down;  fatigue, 
sorrow  and  emotion  had  overmastered  her  rigid,  aristo- 
cratic bearing.  She  was  crying  gently  to  herself,  whilst 
Suzanne  ran  up  to  her  and  tried  to  kiss  away  her  tears. 

Lord  Antony  and  Sir  Andrew  had  said  nothing  to 
interrupt  the  Comtesse  whilst  she  was  speaking.  There 
was  no  doubt  that  they  felt  deeply  for  her ; their  very 
silence  testified  to  that — but  in  every  century,  and  ever 
since  England  has  been  what  it  is,  an  Englishman  has 
always  felt  somewhat  ashamed  of  his  own  emotion  and  of 
his  own  sympathy.  And  so  the  two  young  men  said 
nothing,  and  busied  themselves  in  trying  to  hide  their  feel- 
ings, only  succeeding  in  looking  immeasurably  sheepish. 


LEAGUE  OF  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL  35 

“As  for  me,  Monsieur,”  said  Suzanne,  suddenly,  as 
she  looked  through  a wealth  of  brown  curls  across  at  Sir 
Andrew,  “ I trust  you  absolutely,  and  I know  that  you 
will  bring  my  dear  father  safely  to  England,  just  as  you 
brought  us  to-day.” 

This  was  said  with  so  much  confidence,  such  unuttered 
hope  and  belief,  that  it  seemed  as  if  by  magic  to  dry  the 
mother’s  eyes,  and  to  bring  a smile  upon  everybody’s  lips. 

“ Nay ! you  shame  me,  Mademoiselle,”  replied  Sir 
Andrew;  “though  my  life  is  at  your  service,  I have 
been  but  a humble  tool  in  the  hands  of  our  great  leader, 
who  organised  and  effected  your  escape.” 

He  had  spoken  with  so  much  warmth  and  vehemence 
that  Suzanne’s  eyes  fastened  upon  him  in  undisguised 
wonder. 

“Your leader,  Monsieur?”  said  the  Comtesse,  eagerly. 
“Ah!  of  course,  you  must  have  a leader.  And  I did 
not  think  of  that  before ! But  tell  me  where  is  he  ? I 
must  go  to  him  at  once,  and  I and  my  children  must 
throw  ourselves  at  his  feet,  and  thank  him  for  all  that  he 
has  done  for  us.” 

“ Alas,  Madame ! ” said  Lord  Antony,  M that  is 
impossible.” 

“ Impossible  ? — Why  ? ” 

“ Because  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel  works  in  the  dark, 
and  his  identity  is  only  known  under  a solemn  oath  of 
secrecy  to  his  immediate  followers.” 

“ The  Scarlet  Pimpernel  ? ” said  Suzanne,  with  a merry 
laugh.  “Why!  what  a droll  name!  What  is  the 
Scarlet  Pimpernel,  Monsieur  ? ” 

She  looked  at  Sir  Andrew  with  eager  curiosity.  The 
young  man’s  face  had  become  almost  transfigured.  His 
eyes  shone  with  enthusiasm ; hero-worship,  love,  admira- 
tion for  his  leader  seemed  literally  to  glow  upon  his  face. 


36  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

“The  Scarlet  Pimpernel,  Mademoiselle,”  he  said  at 
last  “is  the  name  of  a humble  English  wayside  flower ; 
but  it  is  also  the  name  chosen  to  hide  the  identity  of  the 
best  and  bravest  man  in  all  the  world,  so  that  he  may 
better  succeed  in  accomplishing  the  noble  task  he  has 
set  himself  to  do.” 

“Ah,  yes,”  here  interposed  the  young  Vicomte,  “I 
have  heard  speak  of  this  Scarlet  Pimpernel.  A little 
flower — red  ? — yes  ! They  say  in  Paris  that  every  time 
a royalist  escapes  to  England  that  devil,  Foucquier- 
Tinville,  the  Public  Prosecutor,  receives  a paper  with 
that  little  flower  dessinated  in  red  upon  it.  . . . Yes?” 

“ Yes,  that  is  so,”  assented  Lord  Antony. 

“ Then  he  will  have  received  one  such  paper  to-day  ? ” 

“ Undoubtedly.” 

“ Oh ! I wonder  what  he  will  say ! ” said  Suzanne, 
merrily.  “ I have  heard  that  the  picture  of  that  little  red 
flower  is  the  only  thing  that  frightens  him.” 

“Faith,  then,”  said  Sir  Andrew,  “he  will  have  many 
more  opportunities  of  studying  the  shape  of  that  small 
scarlet  flower.” 

“Ah  ! monsieur,”  sighed  the  Comtesse,  “it  all  sounds 
like  a romance,  and  I cannot  understand  it  all.” 

“ Why  should  you  try,  Madame  ? ” 

“But,  tell  me,  why  should  your  leader — why  should 
you  all — spend  your  money  and  risk  your  lives — for  it 
is  your  lives  you  risk,  Messieurs,  when  you  set  foot  la 
France — and  all  for  us  French  men  and  women,  who  are 
nothing  to  you  ? ” 

“Sport,  Madame  la  Comtesse,  sport,”  asserted  Lord 
Antony,  with  his  jovial,  loud  and  pleasant  voice;  “we  are 
a nation  of  sportsmen,  you  know,  and  just  now  it  is  the 
fashion  to  pull  the  hare  from  between  the  teeth  of  the 
hound.” 


LEAGUE  OF  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL  37 

“ Ah,  no,  no,  not  sport  only,  Monsieur  . . . you  have  a 
more  noble  motive,  I am  sure,  for  the  good  work  you 
do.” 

“ Faith,  Madame,  I would  like  you  to  find  it  then  . as 
for  me,  I vow,  I love  the  game,  for  this  is  the  finest 
sport  I have  yet  encountered. — Hair-breadth  escapes  , . . 
the  devil’s  own  risks ! — Tally  ho ! — and  away  we  go ! ” 

But  the  Comtesse  shook  her  head,  still  incredulously. 
To  her  it  seemed  preposterous  that  these  young  men 
and  their  great  leader,  all  of  them  rich,  probably  well- 
born, and  young,  should  for  no  other  motive  than  sport, 
run  the  terrible  risks,  which  she  knew  they  were  constantly 
doing.  Their  nationality,  once  they  had  set  foot  in 
France,  would  be  no  safeguard  to  them.  Anyone  found 
harbouring  or  assisting  suspected  royalists  would  be 
ruthlessly  condemned  and  summarily  executed,  what- 
ever his  nationality  might  be.  And  this  band  of  young 
Englishmen  had,  to  her  own  knowledge,  bearded  the 
implacable  and  bloodthirsty  tribunal  of  the  Revolution, 
within  the  very  walls  of  Paris  itself,  and  had  snatched 
away  condemned  victims,  almost  from  the  very  foot  of 
the  guillotine.  With  a shudder,  she  recalled  the  events 
of  the  last  few  days,  her  escape  from  Paris  with  her  two 
children,  all  three  of  them  hidden  beneath  the  hood  of 
a rickety  cart,  and  lying  amidst  a heap  of  turnips  and 
cabbages,  not  daring  to  breathe,  whilst  the  mob  howled 
“A  la  lanterne  les  aristos ! ” at  that  awful  West 
Barricade. 

It  had  all  occurred  in  such  a miraculous  way  : she  and 
her  husband  had  understood  that  they  had  been  placed 
on  the  list  of  “ suspected  persons,”  which  meant  that  their 
trial  and  death  was  but  a matter  of  days — of  hours, 
perhaps. 

Then  came  the  hope  of  salvation;  the  mysterious 


38  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

epistle,  signed  with  the  enigmatical  scarlet  device ; the 
clear,  peremptory  directions;  the  parting  from  the 
Comte  de  Tournay,  which  had  torn  the  poor  wife’s  heart 
in  two ; the  hope  of  reunion ; the  flight  with  her  two 
children ; the  covered  cart ; that  awful  hag  driving  it, 
who  looked  like  some  horrible  evil  demon,  with  the 
ghastly  trophy  on  her  whip  handle  ! 

The  Comtesse  looked  round  at  the  quaint,  old- 
fashioned  English  inn,  the  peace  of  this  land  of  civil  and 
religious  liberty,  and  she  closed  her  eyes  to  shut  out  the 
haunting  vision  of  that  West  Barricade,  and  of  the  mob 
retreating  panic-stricken  when  the  old  hag  spoke  of  the 
plague. 

Every  moment  under  that  cart  she  expected  recogni- 
tion, arrest,  herself  and  her  children  tried  and  con- 
demned, and  these  young  Englishmen,  under  the 
guidance  of  their  brave  and  mysterious  leader,  had 
risked  their  lives  to  save  them  all,  as  they  had  already 
saved  scores  of  other  innocent  people. 

And  all  only  for  sport  ? Impossible ! Suzanne’s 
eyes  as  she  sought  those  of  Sir  Andrew  plainly  told  him 
that  she  thought  that  ht  at  any  rate  rescued  his  fellow- 
men  from  terrible  and  unmerited  death,  through  a higher 
and  nobler  motive  than  his  friend  would  have  her 
believe. 

“ How  many  are  there  in  your  brave  league, 
Monsieur?”  she  asked  timidly. 

“Twenty  all  told,  Mademoiselle,”  he  replied,  “one  to 
command,  and  nineteen  to  obey.  All  of  us  Englishmen, 
and  all  pledged  to  the  same  cause — to  obey  our  leader 
and  to  rescue  the  innocent.”  ^ 

“May  God  protect  you  all,  Messieurs,”  said  the 
Comtesse,  fervently. 

“He  has  done  that  so  far,  Madame. " 


LEAGUE  OF  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL  39 

M It  is  wonderful  to  me,  wonderful ! — That  you  should 
all  be  so  brave,  so  devoted  to  your  fellow-men — yet  you 
are  English  ! — and  in  France  treachery  is  rife — all  in  the 
name  of  liberty  and  fraternity.” 

“ The  women  even,  in  France,  have  been  more  bitter 
against  us  aristocrats  than  the  men,”  said  the  Vicomte, 
with  a sigh. 

“ Ah,  yes,”  added  the  Comtesse,  whilst  a look  of 
haughty  disdain  and  intense  bitterness  shot  through  her 
melancholy  eyes.  “There  was  that  woman,  Marguerite 
St  Just,  for  instance.  She  denounced  the  Marquis  de 
St  Cyr  and  all  his  family  to  the  awful  tribunal  of  the 
Terror.” 

“Marguerite  St  Just  ?”  said  Lord  Antony,  as  he  shot 
a quick  and  apprehensive  glance  across  at  Sir  Andrew. 
“ Marguerite  St  Just  ? — Surely  . . .” 

“Yes  !”  replied  the  Comtesse,  “surely  you  know  her. 
She  was  a leading  actress  of  the  Com^die  Frangaise,  and 
she  married  an  Englishman  lately.  You  must  know 
her—” 

“ Know  her  ? ” said  Lord  Antony.  “ Know  Lady 
Blakeney — the  most  fashionable  woman  in  London — 
the  wife  of  the  richest  man  in  England  ? Of  course,  we 
all  know  Lady  Blakeney.” 

“She  was  a school-fellow  of  mine  at  the  convent  in 
Paris,”  interposed  Suzanne,  “and  we  came  over  to 
England  together  to  learn  your  language.  I was  very 
fond  of  Marguerite,  and  I cannot  believe  that  she  ever 
did  anything  so  wicked.” 

“ It  certainly  seems  incredible,”  said  Sir  Andrew. 
“You  say  that  she  actually  denounced  the  Marquis  de  St 
Cyr  ? Wfcfy  should  she  have  done  such  a thing  ? Surely 
there  must  be  some  mistake — ” 

“No  mistake  is  possible,  Monsieur,"  rejoined  the 


40 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


Comtesse,  coldly.  “Marguerite  St  Just’s  brother  is  a 
noted  republican.  There  was  some  talk  of  a family  feud 
between  him  and  my  cousin,  the  Marquis  de  St  Cyr. 
The  St  Justs’  are  quite  plebeian,  and  the  republican 
government  employs  many  spies.  I assure  you  there  is 
no  mistake.  . . . You  had  not  heard  this  story  ?” 

“ Faith,  Madame,  I did  hear  some  vague  rumours  of  it, 
but  in  England  no  one  would  credit  it.  . . . Sir  Percy 
Blakeney,  her  husband,  is  a very  wealthy  man,  of  high 
social  position,  the  intimate  friend  of  the  Prince  of 
Wales  ...  and  Lady  Blakeney  leads  both  fashion  and 
society  in  London.” 

“ That  may  be,  Monsieur,  and  we  shall,  of  course,  lead 
a very  quiet  life  in  England,  but  I pray  God  that  while 
I remain  in  this  beautiful  country,  I may  never  meet 
Marguerite  St  Just.” 

The  proverbial  wet-blanket  seemed  to  have  fallen  over 
the  merry  little  company  gathered  round  the  table. 
Suzanne  looked  sad  and  silent ; Sir  Andrew  fidgeted 
uneasily  with  his  fork,  whilst  the  Comtesse,  encased  in 
the  plate-armour  of  her  aristocratic  prejudices,  sat,  rigid 
and  unbending,  in  her  straight-backed  chair.  As  for 
Lord  Antony,  he  looked  extremely  uncomfortable,  and 
glanced  once  or  twice  apprehensively  towards  Jelly  band, 
who  looked  just  as  uncomfortable  as  himself. 

“At  what  time  do  you  expect  Sir  Percy  and  Lady 
Blakeney?”  he  contrived  to  whisper  unobserved,  to 
mine  host. 

“Any  moment,  my  lord,”  whispered  Jellyband  in 
reply. 

Even  as  he  spoke,  a distant  clatter  was  heard  of  an 
approaching  coach : louder  and  louder  it  grew,  one  or 
two  shouts  became  distinguishable,  then  the  rattle  of 
horses’  hoofs  on  the  uneven  cobble  stones,  and  the  next 


LEAGUE  OF  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL  41 

moment  a stable  boy  had  thrown  open  the  coffee-room 
door  and  rushed  in  excitedly. 

“ Sir  Percy  Blakeney  and  my  lady,”  he  shouted  at 
the  top  of  his  voice,  “they’re  just  arriving.” 

And  with  more  shouting,  jingling  of  harness,  and  iron 
hoofs  upon  the  stones,  a magnificent  coach,  drawn  by 
four  superb  bays,  had  halted  outside  the  porch  of  “ The 
Fisherman’s  Rest.” 


CHAPTER  V 


MARGUERITE 

In  a moment  the  pleasant  oak-raftered  coffee-room  cf 
the  inn  became  the  scene  of  hopeless  confusion  and 
discomfort.  At  the  first  announcement  made  by  the 
stable  boy,  Lord  Antony,  with  a fashionable  oath,  had 
jumped  up  from  his  seat  and  was  now  giving  many  and 
confused  directions  to  poor  bewildered  Jellyband,  who 
seemed  at  his  wits’  end  what  to  do. 

“ For  goodness’  sake,  man,”  admonished  his  lordship, 
“try  to  keep  Lady  Blakeney  talking  outside  for  a 
moment,  while  the  ladies  withdraw.  Zounds  ! ” he  added, 
witn  another  more  emphatic  oath,  “this  is  most 
unfortunate.” 

“Quick,  Sally!  the  candles!”  shouted  Jellyband,  as 
hopping  about  from  one  leg  to  another,  he  ran  hither 
and  thither,  adding  to  the  general  discomfort  of  every- 
body. 

The  Comtesse,  too,  had  risen  to  her  feet : rigid  and 
erect,  trying  to  hide  her  excitement  beneath  more  becom- 
ing sang-froid , she  repeated  mechanically, — 

“ I will  not  sec  her  ! — I will  not  see  her  ! ” 

Outside,  the  CACitement  attendant  upon  the  arrival  of 
very  important  guests  grew  apace. 

“ Good-day,  Sir  Percy ! — Good-day  to  your  ladyship  ! 
Your  servant,  Sir  Percy ! ” — was  heard  in  one  long, 
continued  chorus,  with  alternate  more  feeble  tones  of— 

42 


MARGUERITE 


43 

“ Remember  the  poor  blind  man  ! of  your  charity,  lady 
and  gentleman ! ” 

Then  suddenly  a singularly  sweet  voice  was  heard 
through  all  the  din. 

“ Let  the  poor  man  be — and  give  him  some  supper  at 
my  expense.” 

The  voice  was  low  and  musical,  with  a slight  sing-song 
in  it,  and  a faint  soup(on  of  foreign  intonation  in  tht 
pronunciation  of  the  consonants. 

Everyone  in  the  coffee-room  heard  it  and  paused 
instinctively  listening  to  it  for  a moment.  Sally  was 
holding  the  candles  by  the  opposite  door,  which  led  to 
the  bedrooms  upstairs,  and  the  Comtesse  was  in  the  act 
of  beating  a hasty  retreat  before  that  enemy  who  owned 
such  a sweet  musical  voice;  Suzanne  reluctantly  was 
preparing  to  follow  her  mother,  whilst  casting  regretful 
glances  towards  the  door,  where  she  hoped  still  to  see 
her  dearly-beloved,  erstwhile  school  fellow. 

Then  Jellyband  threw  open  the  door,  still  stupidly  and 
blindly  hoping  to  avert  the  catastrophe,  which  he  felt  was 
in  the  air,  and  the  same  low,  musical  voice  said,  with  a 
merry  laugh  and  mock  consternation, — 

“B-r-r-r-r!  I am  as  wet  as  a herring  1 $ Dieu  ! has 
anyone  ever  seen  such  a contemptible  climate  ? ” 

“ Suzanne,  come  with  me  at  once — I wish  it,”  said  the 
Comtesse,  peremptorily. 

“ Oh  ! Mama  ! ” pleaded  Suzanne. 

“ My  lady  . . . er  . . . h’m ! ...  my  lady ! . . . n 
came  in  feeble  accents  from  Jellyband,  who  stood 
clumsily  trying  to  bar  the  way. 

“ Pardieu,  my  good  man,”  said  Lady  Blakeney,  with 
some  impatience,  “ what  are  you  standing  in  my  way  for, 
dancing  about  like  a turkey  with  a sore  foot  ? Let  me 
get  to  the  fire,  I am  perished  with  the  cold.’' 


44 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


And  the  next  moment  Lady  Blakeney,  gently  pushing 
mine  host  on  one  side,  had  swept  into  the  coffee-room. 

There  are  many  portraits  and  miniatures  extant  of 
Marguerite  St  Just — Lady  Blakeney  as  she  was  then — 
but  it  is  doubtful  if  any  of  these  really  do  her  singular 
beauty  justice.  Tall,  above  the  average,  with  magnificent 
presence  and  regal  figure,  it  is  small  wonder  that  evqn 
the  Comtesse  paused  for  a moment  in  involuntary 
admiration  before  turning  her  back  on  so  fascinating  an 
apparition. 

Marguerite  Blakeney  was  then  scarcely  five-and-twenty, 
and  her  beauty  was  at  its  most  dazzling  stage.  The 
large  hat,  with  its  undulating  and  waving  plumes,  threw  a 
soft  shadow  across  the  classic  brow  with  the  aureole  of 
auburn  hair — free  at  the  moment  from  any  powder ; the 
sweet,  almost  childlike  mouth,  the  straight  chiselled  nose, 
round  chin,  and  delicate  throat,  all  seemed  set  off  by  the 
picturesque  costume  of  the  period.  The  rich  blue  velvet 
robe  moulded  in  its  every  line  the  graceful  contour  of 
the  figure,  whilst  one  tiny  hand  held,  with  a dignity  all 
its  own,  the  tall  stick  adorned  with  a large  bunch  of 
ribbons  which  fashionable  ladies  of  the  period  had 
taken  to  carrying  recently. 

With  a quick  glance  all  round  the  room,  Marguerite 
Blakeney  had  taken  stock  of  every  one  there.  She 
nodded  pleasantly  to  Sir  Andrew  Ffoulkes,  whilst 
extending  a hand  to  Lord  Antony. 

“Hello!  my  Lord  Tony,  why  — what  are  you  doing 
here  in  Dover?”  she  said  merrily. 

Then,  without  waiting  for  a reply,  she  turned  and  faced 
the  Comtesse  and  Suzanne.  Her  whole  face  lighted  up 
with  additional  brightness,  as  she  stretched  out  both 
arms  towards  the  young  girl. 

“Why!  if  that  isn’t  my  little  Suzanne  over  there 


MARGUERITE 


45 

Pardteu , little  citizeness,  how  came  you  to  be  in 
England  ? And  Madame  too  ! ” 

She  went  up  effusively  to  them  both,  with  not  a single 
touch  of  embarrassment  in  her  manner  or  in  her  smile. 
Lord  Tony  and  Sir  Andrew  watched  the  little  scene  with 
eager  apprehension.  English  though  they  were,  they 
had  often  been  in  France,  and  had  mixed  sufficiently  with 
the  French,  to  realise  the  unbending  hauteur,  the  bitter 
hatred  with  which  the  old  noblesse  of  France  viewed  all 
those  who  had  helped  to  contribute  to  their  downfall 
Armand  St  Just,  the  brother  of  beautiful  Lady  Blakeney 
— though  known  to  hold  moderate  and  conciliatory 
views — was  an  ardent  republican  : his  feud  with  the 
ancient  family  of  St  Cyr — the  rights  and  wrongs  of 
which  no  outsider  ever  knew — had  culminated  in  the 
downfall,  the  almost  total  extinction,  of  the  latter.  In 
France,  St  Just  and  his  party  had  triumphed,  and  here  in 
England,  face  to  face  with  these  three  refugees  driven 
from  their  country,  flying  for  their  lives,  bereft  of  all 
which  centuries  of  luxury  had  given  them,  there  stood  a 
fair  scion  of  those  same  republican  families  which  had 
hurled  down  a throne,  and  uprooted  an  aristocracy 
whose  origin  was  lost  in  the  dim  and  distant  vista  of  by- 
gone centuries. 

She  stood  there  before  them,  in  all  the  unconscious 
insolence  of  beauty,  and  stretched  out  her  dainty  hand 
to  them,  as  if  she  would,  by  that  one  act,  bridge  over  the 
conflict  and  bloodshed  of  the  past  decade. 

“Suzanne,  I forbid  you  to  speak  to  that  woman,”  said 
the  Comtesse,  sternly,  as  she  placed  a restraining  hand 
upon  her  daughter’s  arm. 

She  had  spoken  in  English,  so  that  all  might  hear  and 
understand ; the  two  young  English  gentlemen  as  well 
as  the  common  innkeeper  and  his  daughter.  The  latter 


46  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

literally  gasped  with  horror  at  this  foreign  insolence,  this 
impudence  before  her  ladyship — who  was  English,  now 
that  she  was  Sir  Percy’s  wife,  and  a friend  of  the 
Princess  of  Wales  to  boot. 

As  for  Lord  Antony  and  Sir  Andrew  Ffoulkes,  their 
very  hearts  seemed  to  stand  still  with  horror'  at  this 
gratuitous  insult.  One  of  them  uttered  an  exclamation 
of  appeal,  the  other  one  of  warning,  and  instinctively 
both  glanced  hurriedly  towards  the  door,  whence  a slow, 
drawly,  not  unpleasant  voice  had  already  been  heard. 

Alone  among  those  present  Marguerite  Blakeney  and 
the  Comtesse  de  Tournay  had  remained  seemingly 
unmoved.  The  latter,  rigid,  erect  and  defiant,  with  one 
hand  still  upon  her  daughter’s  arm,  seemed  the  very 
personification  of  unbending  pride.  For  the  moment 
Marguerite’s  sweet  face  had  become  as  white  as  the  soft 
fichu  which  swathed  her  throat,  and  a very  keen  observer 
might  have  noted  that  the  hand  which  held  the  tall,  be- 
ribboned  stick  was  clenched,  and  trembled  somewhat. 

But  this  was  only  momentary ; the  next  instant  the 
delicate  eyebrows  were  raised  slightly,  the  lips  curved 
sarcastically  upwards,  the  clear  blue  eyes  looked  straight 
at  the  rigid  Comtesse,  and  with  a slight  shrug  of  the 
shoulders — 

“Hoity-toity,  citizeness,”  she  said  gaily,  “what  fly 
stings  you,  pray  ? ” 

“We  are  in  England  now,  Madame,”  rejoined  the 
Comtesse,  coldly,  “and  I am  at  liberty  to  forbid  my 
daughter  to  touch  your  hand  in  friendship.  Come, 
Suzanne.” 

She  beckoned  to  her  daughter,  and  without  another 
look  at  Marguerite  Blakeney,  but  with  a deep,  old- 
fashioned  curtsey  to  the  two  young  men,  she  sailed 
majestically  out  of  the  room. 


MARGUERITE 


47 


There  was  silence  in  the  old  inn  parlour  for  a moment, 
as  the  rustle  of  the  Comtesse’s  skirts  died  away  down  the 
passage.  Marguerite,  rigid  as  a statue,  followed  with 
hard,  set  eyes  the  upright  figure,  as  it  disappeared 
through  the  doorway — but  as  little  Suzanne,  humble  and 
obedient,  was  about  to  follow  her  mother,  the  hard,  set 
expression  suddenly  vanished,  and  a wistful,  almost 
pathetic  and  childlike  look  stole  into  Lady  Blakeney’s 
eyes. 

Little  Suzanne  caught  that  look ; the  child’s  sweet 
nature  went  out  to  the  beautiful  woman,  scarce  older 
than  herself;  filial  obedience  vanished  before  girlish 
sympathy ; at  the  door  she  turned,  ran  back  to 
Marguerite,  and  putting  her  arms  round  her,  kissed  her 
effusively ; then  only  did  she  follow  her  mother,  Sally 
bringing  up  the  rear,  with  a pleasant  smile  on  her 
dimpled  face,  and  with  a final  curtsey  to  my  lady. 

Suzanne’s  sweet  and  dainty  impulse  had  relieved  the 
unpleasant  tension.  Sir  Andrew’s  eyes  followed  the 
pretty  little  figure,  until  it  had  quite  disappeared,  then 
they  met  Lady  Blakeney’s  with  unassumed  merriment. 

Marguerite,  with  dainty  affectation,  had  kissed  her 
hand  to  the  ladies,  as  they  disappeared  through  the  door, 
then  a humorous  smile  began  hoveriug  round  the 
corners  of  her  mouth. 

“ So  that’s  it,  is  it  ? ” she  said  gaily.  “ La ! Sir  Andrew, 
did  you  ever  see  such  an  unpleasant  person  ? I hope 
when  I grow  old  I stia’n’t  look  like  that.” 

She  gathered  up  her  skirts,  and  assuming  a majestic 
gait,  stalked  towards  the  fireplace. 

“ Suzanne,”  she  said,  mimicking  the  Comtesse’s  voice, 
**  I forbid  you  to  speak  to  that  woman  1 ” 

The  laugh,  which  accompanied  this  sally,  sounded 
perhaps  a trifle  forced  and  hard,  but  neither  Sir  Andrew 


48  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

nor  Lord  Tony  were  very  keen  observers.  The  mimicry 
was  so  perfect,  the  tone  of  the  voice  so  accurately 
reproduced,  that  both  the  young  men  joined  in  a hearty 
cheerful  “ Bravo  ! ” 

“Ah!  Lady  Blakeney!”  added  Lord  Tony,  “how 
they  must  miss  you  at  the  Com^die  Frangaise,  and  how 
the  Parisians  must  hate  Sir  Percy  for  having  taken  you 
away.” 

“ Lud,  man,”  rejoined  Marguerite,  with  a shrug  of  her 
graceful  shoulders,  “ ’tis  impossible  to  hate  Sir  Percy  for 
anything ; his  witty  sallies  would  disarm  even  Mada^p 
la  Comtesse  herself.” 

The  young  Vicomte,  who  had  not  elected  to  follow 
his  mother  in  her  dignified  exit,  now  made  a step  forward, 
ready  to  champion  the  Comtesse  should  Lady  Blakeney 
aim  any  further  shafts  at  her.  But  before  he  could  utter 
a preliminary  word  of  protest,  a pleasant,  though 
distinctly  inane  laugh,  was  heard  from  outside,  and  the 
next  moment  an  unusually  tall  and  very  richly  dressed 
figure  appeared  in  the  doorway. 


CHAPTER  VI 

AN  EXQUISITE  OF  ’92 

Sir  Percy  Blakeney,  as  the  chronicles  of  the  time 
inform  us,  was  in  this  year  of  grace  1792,  still  a year  or 
two  on  the  right  side  of  thirty.  Tall,  above  the  average, 
even  for  an  Englishman,  broad-shouldered  and  massively 
built,  he  would  have  been  called  unusually  good-looking, 
but  for  a certain  lazy  expression  in  his  deep-set  blue  eyes, 
and  that  perpetual  inane  laugh  which  seemed  to  disfigure 
his  strong,  clearly-cut  mouth. 

It  was  nearly  a year  ago  now  that  Sir  Percy  Blakeney, 
Bart.,  one  of  the  richest  men  in  England,  leader  of  all 
the  fashions,  and  intimate  friend  of  the  Prince  of  Wales, 
had  astonished  fashionable  society  in  London  and 
Bath,  by  bringing  home,  from  one  of  his  journeys  abroad, 
a beautiful,  fascinating,  clever,  French  wife.  He,  the 
sleepiest,  dullest,  most  British  Britisher  that  had  ever 
set  a pretty  woman  yawning,  had  secured  a brilliant 
matrimonial  prize  for  which,  as  all  chroniclers  aver,  there 
had  been  many  competitors. 

Marguerite  St  Just  had  first  made  her  dtbut  in  artistic 
Parisian  circles,  at  the  very  moment  when  the  greatest 
social  upheaval  the  world  has  ever  known  was  taking 
place  within  its  very  walls.  Scarcely  eighteen,  lavishly 
gifted  with  beauty  and  talent,  chaperoned  only  by  a 
young  and  devoted  brother,  she  had  soon  gathered  round 
her  in  her  charming  apartment  in  the  Rue  Richelieu, 
© if 


50 


HE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


% coterie  which  was  as  brilliant  as  it  was  exclusive 
— exclusive,  that  is  to  say,  only  from  one  point  of  view, 
Marguerite  St  Just  was  from  principle  and  by  conviction 
a republican — equality  of  birth  was  her  motto — inequality 
of  fortune  was  in  her  eyes  a mere  untoward  accident,  but 
the  only  inequality  she  admitted  was  that  of  talent. 
“ Money  and  titles  may  be  hereditary,”  she  would  say, 
“but  brains  are  not,”  and  thus  her  charming  salon  was 
reserved  for  originality  and  intellect,  for  brilliance  and 
wit,  for  clever  men  and  talented  women,  and  the  entrance 
into  it  was  soon  looked  upon  in  the  world  of  intellect — 
which  even  in  those  days  and  in  those  troublous  times 
found  its  pivot  in  Paris — as  the  seal  to  an  artistic  career. 

Clever  men,  distinguished  men,  and  even  men  of 
exalted  station  formed  a perpetual  and  brilliant  court 
round  the  fascinating  young  actress  of  the  Com£die 
Fran£aise,  and  she  glided  through  republican,  revolu- 
tionary, bloodthirsty  Paris  like  a shining  comet  with  a 
trail  behind  her  of  all  that  was  most  distinguished,  most 
interesting,  in  intellectual  Europe. 

Then  the  climax  came.  Some  smiled  indulgently  and 
called  it  an  artistic  eccentricity,  others  looked  upon  it  as 
a wise  provision,  in  view  of  the  many  events  which  were 
crowding  thick  and  fast  in  Paris  just  then,  but  to  all,  the 
real  motive  of  that  climax  remained  a puzzle  and  a 
mystery.  Anyway,  Marguerite  St  Just  married  Sir  Percy 
Blakeney  one  fine  day,  just  like  that,  without  any 
warning  to  her  friends,  without  a soiree  de  control , or 
diner  de  fianfailles  or  other  appurtenances  of  a fashion- 
able French  wedding. 

How  that  stupid,  dull  Englishman  ever  came  to  be 
admitted  within  the  intellectual  circle  which  revolved 
round  “ the  cleverest  woman  in  Europe,”  as  her  friends 
unanimously  called  her,  no  one  ventured  to  guess — 


AN  EXQUISITE  OF  ’92  51 

golden  key  is  said  to  open  every  door,  asserted  the  more 
malignantly  inclined. 

Enough,  she  married  him,  and  the  cleverest  woman 
in  Europe  ” had  linked  her  fate  to  that  “ demmed  idiot ,f 
Blakeney,  and  not  even  her  most  intimate  friends  could 
assign  to  this  strange  step  any  other  motive  than  that  of 
supreme  eccentricity.  Those  friends  who  knew,  laughed 
to  scorn  the  idea  that  Marguerite  St  Just  had  married  a 
fool  for  the  sake  of  the  worldly  advantages  with  which 
he  might  endow  her.  They  knew,  as  a matter  of  fact, 
that  Marguerite  St  Just  cared  nothing  about  money,  and 
still  less  about  a title  ; moreover,  there  were  at  least  half 
a dozen  other  men  in  the  cosmopolitan  world  equally 
well-born,  if  not  so  wealthy  as  Blakeney,  who  would 
have  been  only  too  happy  to  give  Marguerite  St  Just  any 
position  she  might  choose  to  covet. 

As  for  Sir  Percy  himself,  he  was  universally  voted  to 
be  totally  unqualified  for  the  onerous  post  he  had  taken 
upon  himself.  His  chief  qualifications  for  it  seemed  to 
consist  in  his  blind  adoration  for  her,  his  great  wealth, 
and  the  high  favour  in  which  he  stood  at  the  English 
court;  but  London  society  thought  that,  taking  into 
consideration  his  own  intellectual  limitations,  it  would 
have  been  wiser  on  his  part,  had  he  bestowed  those 
worldly  advantages  upon  a less  brilliant  and  witty  wife. 

Although  lately  he  had  been  so  prominent  a figure  in 
fashionable  English  society,  he  had  spent  most  of  his 
early  life  abroad.  His  father,  the  late  Sir  Algernon 
Blakeney,  had  had  the  terrible  misfortune  of  seeing  an 
idolized  young  wife  become  hopelessly  insane  after  two 
years  of  happy  married  life.  Percy  had  just  been  born 
when  the  late  Lady  Blakeney  fell  a prey  to  the  terrible 
malady  which  in  those  days  was  looked  upon  as  hope- 
lessly incurable  and  nothing  short  of  a curse  of  God 


52 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


«|>on  the  entire  family.  Sir  Algernon  took  bis  afflicted 
oung  wife  abroad,  and  there  presumably  Percy  was 
educated,  and  grew  up  between  an  imbecile  mother  and 
a distracted  father,  until  he  attained  his  majority.  The 
death  of  his  parents  following  close  upon  one  another 
left  him  a free  man,  and  as  Sir  Algernon  had  led  a 
forcibly  simple  and  retired  life,  the  large  Blakeney 
fortune  had  increased  tenfold. 

Sir  Percy  Blakeney  had  travelled  a great  deal  abroad, 
before  he  brought  home  his  beautiful,  young,  French  wife. 
The  fashionable  circles  of  the  time  were  ready  to  receive 
them  both  with  open  arms.  Sir  Percy  was  rich,  his  wife 
was  accomplished,  the  Prince  of  Wales  took  a very  great 
liking  to  them  both.  Within  six  months  they  were  the 
acknowledged  leaders  of  fashion  and  of  style.  Sir  Percy’s 
coats  were  the  talk  of  the  town,  his  inanities  were  quoted, 
his  foolish  laugh  copied  by  the  gilded  youth  at  Almack’s 
or  the  Mall.  Everyone  knew  that  he  was  hopelessly 
stupid,  but  then  that  was  scarcely  to  be  wondered  at, 
seeing  that  all  the  Blakeneys,  for  generations,  had  been  ' 
notoriously  dull,  and  that  his  mother  had  died  an 
imbecile. 

Thus  society  accepted  him,  petted  him,  made  much  of 
him,  since  his  horses  were  the  finest  in  the  country,  his 
fetes  and  wines  the  most  sought  after.  As  for  his 
marriage  with  “the  cleverest  woman  in  Europe,”  well! 
the  inevitable  came  with  sure  and  rapid  footsteps.  No 
one  pitied  him,  since  his  fate  was  of  his  own  making. 
There  were  plenty  of  young  ladies  in  England,  of  high 
birth  and  good  looks,  who  would  have  been  quite  willing  * 
to  help  him  to  spend  the  Blakeney  fortune,  whilst 
smiling  indulgently  at  his  inanities  and  his  good- 
humoured  foolishness.  Moreover,  Sir  Percy  got  no  pity, 
because  he  seemed  to  require  none — he  seemed  very 


53 


AN  EXQUISITE  OF  '92 

proud  of  his  clever  wife,  and  to  care  little  that  she  took 
no  pains  to  disguise  that  good-natured  contempt  whicl? 
she  evidently  felt  for  him,  and  that  she  even  amused 
herself  by  sharpening  her  ready  wits  at  his  expense. 

But  then  Blakeney  was  really  too  stupid  to  notice  the 
ridicule  with  which  his  clever  wife  covered  him,  and  if 
his  matrimonial  relations  with  the  fascinating  Parisienne 
had  not  turned  out  all  that  his  hopes  and  his  dog-like 
devotion  for  her  had  pictured,  society  could  never  do 
more  than  vaguely  guess  at  it. 

In  his  beautiful  house  at  Richmond  he  played  second 
fiddle  to  his  clever  wife  with  imperturbable  bonhomie  ; he 
lavished  jewels  and  luxuries  of  all  kinds  upon  her,  which 
she  took  with  inimitable  grace,  dispensing  the  hospitality 
of  his  superb  mansion  with  the  same  graciousness  with 
which  she  had  welcomed  the  intellectual  coierie  of  Paris. 

Physically,  Sir  Percy  Blakeney  was  undeniably  hand- 
some— always  excepting  the  lazy,  bored  look  which  was 
habitual  to  him.  He  was  always  irreproachably  dressed, 
and  wore  the  exaggerated  “ Incroyable”  fashions,  which 
had  just  crept  across  from  Paris  to  England,  with  the 
perfect  good  taste  innate  in  an  English  gentleman.  On 
this  special  afternoon  in  September,  in  spite  of  the  long 
journey  by  coach,  in  spite  of  rain  and  mud,  his  coat  set 
irreproachably  across  his  fine  shoulders,  his  hands  looked 
almost  femininely  white,  as  they  emerged  through  billowy 
frills  of  finest  Mechlin  lace : the  extravagantly  short- 
waisted  satin  coat,  wide-lapelled  waistcoat,  and  tight- 
fitting  striped  breeches,  set  off  his  massive  figure  to 
perfection,  and  in  repose  one  might  have  admired  so 
fine  a specimen  of  English  manhood,  until  the  foppish 
ways,  the  affected  movements,  the  perpetual  inane  laugh, 
brought  one’s  admiration  of  Sir  Percy  Blakeney  to  an 
abrupt  close. 


54 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


He  had  lolled  into  the  old-fashioned  inn  parlour, 
shaking  the  wet  off  his  fine  overcoat ; then  putting  op 
a gold-rimmed  eye-glass  to  his  lazy  blue  eye,  he  sur- 
veyed the  company,  upon  whom  an  embarrassed  silence 
had  suddenly  fallen. 

“ How  do,  Tony?  How  do,  Ffoulkes?”  he  said,  re- 
cognizing the  two  young  men  and  shaking  them  by  the 
hand.  “ Zounds,  my  dear  fellow,”  he  added,  smothering 
a slight  yawn,  “ did  you  ever  see  such  a beastly  day  ? 
Demmed  climate  this.” 

With  a quaint  little  laugh,  half  of  embarrassment  and 
half  of  sarcasm,  Marguerite  had  turned  towards  her  hus- 
band, and  was  surveying  him  from  head  to  foot,  with  an 
amused  little  twinkle  in  her  merry  Diue  eyes. 

“ La  ! ” said  Sir  Percy,  after  a moment  or  two’s  silence, 
as  no  one  offered  any  comment,  “ how  sheepish  you  all 
look.  . . . What’s  up  ? ” 

“ Oh,  nothing,  Sir  Percy,”  replied  Marguerite,  with  a 
certain  amount  of  gaiety,  which,  however,  sounded  some- 
what forced,  “ nothing  to  disturb  your  equanimity — only 
an  insult  to  your  wife.” 

The  laugh  which  accompanied  this  remark  was  evi- 
dently intended  to  reassure  Sir  Percy  as  to  the  gravity 
of  the  incident.  It  apparently  succeeded  in  that,  for, 
echoing  the  laugh,  he  rejoined  placidly — 

“ La,  m’dcar ! you  c^n’t  say  so.  Begad ! who  was 
the  bold  man  who  dared  to  tackle  you — eh?” 

Lord  Tony  tried  to  interpose,  but  had  no  time  to 
do  so,  for  the  young  Vicomte  had  already  quickly  stepped 
forward. 

“Monsieur,”  he  said,  prefixing  his  little  speech  with 
an  elaborate  bow,  and  speaking  in  broken  English,  “ my 
mother,  the  Comtesse  de  Tournay  de  Basserive,  has 
offenced  Madame,  who,  I see,  is  your  wife.  I cannot 


55 


AN  EXQUISITE  OF  ’92 

ask  your  pardon  for  my  mother ; what  she  does  is  light 
in  my  eyes.  But  I am  ready  to  offer  you  the  usual 
reparation  between  men  of  honour.” 

The  young  man  drew  up  his  slim  stature  to  its  full 
height  and  looked  very  enthusiastic,  very  proud,  and 
very  hot  as  he  gazed  at  six  foot  odd  of  gorgeousness,  as 
represented  by  Sir  Percy  Blakeney,  Bart. 

“ Lud,  Sir  Andrew,”  said  Marguerite,  with  one  of  hei 
merry  infectious  laughs,  “ look  on  that  pretty  picture — 
the  English  turkey  and  the  French  bantam.” 

The  simile  was  quite  perfect,  and  the  English  turkey 
looked  down  with  complete  bewilderment  upon  the  dainty 
little  French  bantam,  which  hovered  quite  threateningly 
around  him. 

“ La ! sir,”  said  Sir  Percy  at  last,  putting  up  his  eye- 
glass and  surveying  the  young  Frenchman  with  undis- 
guised wonderment,  “ where,  in  the  cuckoo’s  name,  did 
you  learn  to  speak  English  ? ” 

“ Monsieur  1 ” protested  the  Vicomte,  somewhat 
abashed  at  the  way  his  warlike  attitude  had  been 
taken  by  the  ponderous-looking  Englishman. 

“ I protest  ’tis  marvellous  !”  continued  Sir  Percy,  im- 
perturbably, “ demmed  marvellous  ! Don’t  you  think 
so,  Tony — eh  ? I vow  I can’t  speak  the  French  lingo 
like  that.  What  ? ” 

“Nay,  I’ll  vouch  for  that!”  rejoined  Marguerite. 
“ Sir  Percy  has  a British  accent  you  could  cut  with  a 
knife.” 

“ Monsieur,”  interposed  the  Vicomte  earnestly,  and  in 
still  more  broken  English,  “ I fear  you  have  not  under- 
stand. I offer  you  the  only  posseeble  reparation  among 
gentlemen.” 

“ What  the  devil  is  that  ? ” asked  Sir  Percy,  blandly. 

“My  sword,  Monsieur,”  replied  the  Vicomte,  who. 


$6  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

though  still  bewildered,  was  beginning  to  lose  his 
temper. 

“ You  are  a sportsman,  Lord  Tony,”  said  Marguerite, 
merrily  ; “ ten  to  one  on  the  little  bantam.” 

But  Sir  Percy  was  staring  sleepily  at  the  Vicomte  for  a 
moment  or  two,  through  his  partly  closed  heavy  lids,  then 
he  smothered  another  yawn,  stretched  his  long  limbs, 
and  turned  leisurely  away. 

“Lud  love  you,  sir,”  he  muttered  good-humouredly. 
“ Demmit,  young  man,  what’s  the  good  of  your  sword 
to  me  ? ” 

What  the  Vicomte  thought  and  felt  at  that  moment, 
when  that  long-limbed  Englishman  treated  him  with 
such  marked  insolence,  might  fill  volumes  of  sound  re- 
flections. . . . What  he  said  resolved  itself  into  a single 
articulate  word,  for  all  the  others  were  choked  in  his 
throat  by  his  surging  wrath — 

“A  duel,  Monsieur,”  he  stammered. 

Once  more  Blakeney  turned,  and  from  his  high  altitude 
looked  down  on  the  choleric  little  man  before  him ; but 
not  even  for  a second  did  he  seem  to  lose  his  own  im- 
perturbable good-humour.  He  laughed  his  own  pleasant 
and  inane  laugh,  and  burying  his  slender,  long  hands  into 
the  capacious  pockets  of  his  overcoat,  he  said  leisurely — 

“ A duel  ? La  ! is  that  what  he  meant  ? Odd’s  fish ! 
you  are  a bloodthirsty  young  ruffian.  Do  you  want  to 
make  a hole  in  a law-abiding  man  ? ...  As  for  me, 
sir,  I never  fight  duels,”  he  added,  as  he  placidly  sat 
down  and  stretched  his  long,  lazy  legs  out  before 
him.  “ Demmed  uncomfortable  things,  duels,  ain’t  they, 
Tony?” 

Now  the  Vicomte  had  no  doubt  vaguely  heard  that  in 
England  the  fashion  of  duelling  amongst  gentlemen  had 
been  suppressed  by  the  law  with  a very  stern  hand ; still 


AN  EXQUISITE  OF  ’92  57 

to  him,  a Frenchman,  whose  notions  of  bravery  and 
honour  were  based  upon  a code  that  had  centuries  of 
tradition  to  back  it,  the  spectacle  of  a gentleman  actually 
refusing  to  fight  a duel  was  little  short  of  an  enormity. 
In  his  mind  he  vaguely  pondered  whether  he  should 
strike  that  long-legged  Englishman  in  the  face  and  call 
him  a coward,  or  whether  such  conduct  in  a lady’s 
presence  might  be  deemed  ungentlemanly,  when  Mar- 
guerite happily  interposed. 

**  I pray  you,  Lord  Tony,"  she  said  in  that  gentle, 
sweet,  musical  voice  of  hers,  **  I pray  you  play  the  peace- 
maker. The  child  is  bursting  with  rage,  and,”  she  added 
with  a soup f on  of  dry  sarcasm,  “ might  do  Sir  Percy  an 
injury.”  She  laughed  a mocking  little  laugh,  which, 
however,  did  not  in  the  least  disturb  her  husband’s 
placid  equanimity.  “The  British  turkey  has  had  the 
iay,”  she  said.  “ Sir  Percy  would  provoke  all  the  saints 
in  the  calendar  and  keep  his  temper  the  while.” 

But  already  Blakeney,  good-humoured  as  ever,  had 
joined  in  the  laugh  against  himself. 

“ Demmed  smart  that  now,  wasn’t  it  ? ” he  said,  turn- 
ing pleasantly  to  the  Vicomte.  “ Clever  woman  my  wife, 
sir.  . . . You  will  find  that  out  if  you  live  long  enough 
in  England.” 

“ Sir  Percy  is  in  the  right,  Vicomte,”  here  interposed 
Lord  Antony,  laying  a friendly  hand  on  the  young 
Frenchman’s  shoulder.  “ It  would  hardly  be  fitting  that 
you  should  commence  your  career  in  England  by  pro- 
voking him  to  a duel.” 

For  a moment  longer  the  Vicomte  hesitated,  then 
with  a slight  shrug  of  the  shoulders  directed  against  the 
extraordinary  code  of  honour  prevailing  in  this  fog' 
sidden  island,  he  said  with  becoming  dignity, — 

14  Ah,  well  1 if  Monsieur  is  satisfied,  I have  no  griefs. 


58  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

You,  mi’lor’,  are  our  protector.  If  I have  done  wrong, 
I withdraw  myself.” 

“ Aye,  do  1 ” rejoined  Blakeney,  with  a long  sigh  of 
satisfaction,  “withdraw  yourself  over  there.  Demmed 
excitable  little  puppy,”  he  added  under  his  breath, 
“ Faith,  Ffoulkes,  if  that’s  a specimen  of  the  goods  you 
and  your  friends  bring  over  from  France,  my  advice  to 
you  is,  drop  ’em  ’mid  Channel,  my  friend,  or  I shall  have 
to  see  old  Pitt  about  it,  get  him  to  clap  on  a prohibitive 
tariff,  and  put  you  in  the  stocks  an  you  smuggle.” 

“La,  Sir  Percy,  your  chivalry  misguides  you,”  said 
Marguerite,  coquettishly,  “ you  forget  that  you  yourself 
have  imported  one  bundle  of  goods  from  France.” 

Blakeney  slowly  rose  to  his  feet,  and,  making  a deep 
and  elaborate  bow  before  his  wife,  he  said  with  consum- 
mate gallantry, — 

“ I had  the  pick  of  the  market,  Madame,  and  my  taste 
is  unerring.” 

“ More  so  than  your  chivalry,  I fear,”  she  retorted 
sarcastically. 

“ Odd’s  life,  m’dear ! be  reasonable ! Do  you  think  I 
am  going  to  allow  my  body  to  be  made  a pincushion  of, 
by  every  little  frog-eater  who  don’t  like  the  shape  of 
your  nose  ? ” 

“Lud,  Sir  Percy!”  laughed  Lady  Blakeney  as  she 
bobbed  him  a quaint  and  pretty  curtsey,  “you  need  not 
be  afraid ! ’Tis  not  the  men  who  dislike  the  shape  of 
my  nose.” 

“ Afraid  be  demmed ! Do  you  impugn  my  bravery, 
Madame  ? I don’t  patronise  the  ring  for  nothing,  do  I 
Tony  ? I’ve  put  up  the  fists  with  Red  Sam  before  now, 
and — and  he  didn’t  get  it  all  his  own  way  either — ” 

“ S’faith,  Sir  Percy,”  said  Marguerite,  with  a long  and 
merry  laugh,  that  went  echoing  along  the  old  oak  rafters 


59 


AN  EXQUISITE  OF  ’92 

of  the  parlour,  “ I would  I had  seen  you  then  ...  ha  1 
ha  ! ha  ! ha ! — you  must  have  looked  a pretty  picture 
. . . and  . . . and  to  be  afraid  of  a little  French  boy 
. . . ha ! ha ! . . . ha ! ha ! ” 

“ Ha ! ha ! ha ! he  ! he  ! he  ! ’’  echoed  Sir  Percy,  good- 
humouredly.  “ La,  Madame,  you  honour  me  ! Zooks ! 
Ffoulkes,  mark  ye  that ! I have  made  my  wife  laugh  ! 
— The  cleverest  woman  in  Europe ! . . . Odd’s  fish,  we 
must  have  a bowl  on  that ! ” and  he  tapped  vigorously 
on  the  table  near  him.  “ Hey  ! Jelly  1 Quick,  man ! 
Here,  Jelly!” 

Harmony  was  once  more  restored.  Mr  Jelly  band, 
with  a mighty  effort,  recovered  himself  from  the  many 
emotions  he  had  experienced  within  the  last  half  hour. 

“ A bowl  of  punch,  Jelly,  hot  and  strong,  eh  ? ” said 
Sir  Percy.  “The  wits  that  have  just  made  a clever 
woman  laugh  must  be  whetted ! Ha  I ha ! ha ! Hasten, 
my  good  Jelly ! ” 

“Nay,  there  is  no  time,  Sir  Percy,”  interposed  Mar- 
guerite. “The  skipper  will  be  here  directly  and  my 
brother  must  get  on  board,  or  the  Day  Dream  will  miss 
the  tide.” 

“Time,  m’dear?  There  is  plenty  of  time  for  any 
gentleman  to  get  drunk  and  get  on  board  before  the 
turn  of  the  tide.” 

“ I think,  your  ladyship,”  said  Jellyband,  respectfully, 
“that  the  young  gentleman  is  coming  along  now  with 
Sir  Percy’s  skipper.” 

“That’s  right,”  said  Blakeney,  “then  Armand  can 
join  us  in  the  merry  bowl.  Think  you,  Tony,”  he 
added,  turning  towards  the  Vicomte,  “ that  that  jacka- 
napes of  yours  will  join  us  in  a glass?  Tell  him  that  we 
drink  in  token  of  reconciliation.” 

“ In  fact  you  are  all  such  merry  company,”  said  Mar- 


60  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

guerite,  “that  I trust  you  will  forgive  me  if  I bid  my 
brother  good-bye  in  another  room.” 

It  would  have  been  bad  form  to  protest.  Both  Lord 
Antony  and  Sir  Andrew  felt  that  Lady  Blakeney  could 
not  altogether  be  in  tune  with  them  at  that  moment. 
Her  love  for  her  brother,  Armand  St  Just,  was  deep  and 
touching  in  the  extreme.  He  had  just  spent  a few 
weeks  with  her  in  her  English  home,  and  was  going 
back  to  serve  his  country,  at  a moment  when  death  was 
the  usual  reward  for  the  most  enduring  devotion. 

Sir  Percy  also  made  no  attempt  to  detain  his  wife. 
With  that  perfect,  somewhat  affected  gallantry  which 
characterised  his  every  movement,  he  opened  the  coffee- 
room  door  for  her,  and  made  her  the  most  approved  and 
elaborate  bow,  which  the  fashion  of  the  time  dictated, 
as  she  sailed  out  of  the  room  without  bestowing  on  him 
more  than  a passing,  slightly  contemptuous  glance. 
Only  Sir  Andrew  Ffoulkes,  whose  every  thought  since  he 
had  met  Suzanne  de  Tournay  seemed  keener,  more 
gentle,  more  innately  sympathetic,  noted  the  curious  look 
of  intense  longing,  of  deep  and  hopeless  passion,  with 
which  the  inane  and  flippant  Sir  Percy  followed  the 
retreating  figure  of  his  brilliant  wife. 


4f$ 


CHAPTER  VII 


THE  SECRET  ORCHARD 

Once  outside  the  noisy  coffee-room,  alone  in  the  dimly- 
hghted  passage,  Marguerite  Blakeney  seemed  to  breathe 
more  freely.  She  heaved  a deep  sigh,  like  one  who  had 
long  been  oppressed  with  the  heavy  weight  of  constant 
self-control,  and  she  allowed  a few  tears  to  fall  unheeded 
down  her  cheeks. 

Outside  the  rain  had  ceased,  and  through  the  swiftly 
passing  clouds,  the  pale  rays  of  an  after-storm  sun  shone 
upon  the  beautiful  white  coast  of  Kent  and  the  quaint, 
irregular  houses  that  clustered  round  the  Admiralty 
Pier.  Marguerite  Blakeney  stepped  on  to  the  porch 
and  looked  out  to  sea.  Silhouetted  against  the  ever- 
changing  sky,  a graceful  schooner,  with  white  sails  set, 
was  gently  dancing  in  the  breeze.  The  Day  Dream  it 
was,  Sir  Percy  Blakeney’s  yacht,  which  was  ready  to  take 
Armand  St  Just  back  to  France  into  the  very  midst  of 
that  seething,  bloody  Revolution  which  was  overthrowing 
a monarchy,  attacking  a religion,  destroying  a society, 
in  order  to  try  and  rebuild  upon  the  ashes  of  tradition  a 
new  Utopia,  of  which  a few  men  dreamed,  but  which 
none  had  the  power  to  establish. 

In  the  distance  two  figures  were  approaching  “The 
Fisherman’s  Rest  ” : one,  an  oldish  man,  with  a curious 
fringe  of  grey  hairs  round  a rotund  and  massive  chin,  and 
who  walked  with  that  peculiar  rolling  gait  which  invari- 
ably betrays  the  seafaring  man : the  other,  a young,  slight 


62 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


figure,  neatly  and  becomingly  dressed  in  a dark,  many 
caped  overcoat ; he  was  clean-shaved,  and  his  dark  hair 
was  taken  well  back  over  a clear  and  noble  forehead. 

**  Armand ! ” said  Marguerite  Blakeney,  as  soon  as 
she  saw  him  approaching  from  the  distance,  and  a happy 
smile  shone  on  her  sweet  face,  even  through  the  tears. 

A minute  or  two  later  brother  and  sister  were  locked 
in  each  other’s  arms,  while  the  old  skipper  stood  respect' 
fully  on  one  side. 

“ How  much  time  have  we  got,  Briggs  ? ” asked  Lady 
Blakeney,  “ before  M.  St  Just  need  go  on  board  ? ” 

“ We  ought  to  weigh  anchor  before  half  an  hour, 
your  ladyship,”  replied  the  old  man,  pulling  at  his  grey 
forelock. 

Linking  her  arm  in  his,  Marguerite  led  her  brother 
towards  the  cliffs. 

“ Half  an  hour,”  she  said,  looking  wistfully  out  to  sea, 
“ half  an  hour  more  and  you’ll  be  far  from  me,  Armand  ! 
Oh ! I can’t  believe  that  you  are  going,  dear ! These 
last  few  days — whilst  Percy  has  been  away,  and  I’ve  had 
you  all  to  myself,  have  slipped  by  like  a dream.” 

“ I am  not  going  far,  sweet  one,”  said  the  young  man 
gently,  “ a narrow  channel  to  cross — a few  miles  of  road 
— I can  soon  come  back.” 

“ Nay,  ’tis  not  the  distance,  Armand — but  that  awful 
Paris  . . . just  now  . . .” 

They  had  reached  the  edge  of  the  cliff.  The  gentle 
sea-breeze  blew  Marguerite’s  hair  about  her  face,  and 
sent  the  ends  of  her  soft  lace  fichu  waving  round  her, 
like  a white  and  supple  snake.  She  tried  to  pierce  the 
distance  far  away,  beyond  which  lay  the  shores  of 
France : that  relentless  and  stern  France  which  was 
exacting  her  pound  of  flesh,  the  blood-tax  from  the 
noblest  of  her  sons. 


THE  SECRET  ORCHARD 


63 

**  Our  own  beautiful  country,  Marguerite,”  said 
Armand,  who  seemed  to  have  divined  her  thoughts. 

“ They  are  going  too  far,  Armand,”  she  said 
vehemently.  “You  are  a republican,  so  am  I ...  we 
have  the  same  thoughts,  the  same  enthusiasm  for  liberty 
and  equality  . . . but  evenly*?*  must  think  that  they  are 
going  too  far  . . 

“ Hush  ! — ” said  Armand,  instinctively,  as  he  threw  a 
quick,  apprehensive  glance  around  him. 

“ Ah ! you  see : you  don’t  think  yourself  that  it  is 
safe  even  to  speak  of  these  things — here  in  England  ! n 
She  clung  to  him  suddenly  with  strong,  almost  motherly, 
passion  : “ Don’t  go,  Armand  1 ” she  begged ; “ don’t 
go  back  ! What  should  I do  if  ...  if  ...  if  . .” 

Her  voice  was  choked  in  sobs,  her  eyes,  tender,  blue 
and  loving,  gazed  appealingly  at  the  young  man,  who  in 
his  turn  looked  steadfastly  into  " srs. 

“You  would  in  any  case  be  my  own  brave  sister/’  he 
said  gently,  “ who  would  remember  that,  when  France 
is  in  peril,  it  is  not  for  her  sons  to  turn  their  backs  on 
her.” 

Even  as  he  spoke,  that  sweet,  childlike  smile  crept  back 
into  her  face,  pathetic  in  the  extreme,  for  it  seemed 
drowned  in  tears. 

“ Oh  1 Armand  I ” she  said  quaintly,  “ I sometimes 
wish  you  had  not  so  many  lofty  virtues.  ...  I assure 
you  little  sins  are  far  less  dangerous  and  uncom- 
fortable. But  you  wi 'll  be  prudent?”  she  added 
earnestly. 

“ As  far  as  possible  ...  I promise  you.* 

“ Remember,  dear,  I have  only  you  ...  to  ...  to 
care  for  me.  ...” 

“Nay,  sweet  one,  you  have  other  interests  no*, 
Percy  cares  for  you.  . . /' 


64  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

A look  of  strange  wistfulness  crept  into  her  eyes  &i 
she  murmured, — 

“ He  did  . . . once  . . * 

“ But  surely  . . 

“There,  there,  dear,  don't  distress  yourself  on  my 
account.  Percy  is  very  good  . . .M 

“ Nay  1 ” he  interrupted  energetically,  “ I will  distress 
myself  on  your  account,  my  Margot.  Listen,  dear,  I 
have  not  spoken  of  these  things  to  you  before  ; some- 
thing always  seemed  to  stop  me  when  I wished  to 
question  you.  But,  somehow,  I feel  as  if  I could  not  go 
away  and  leave  you  now  without  asking  you  one  ques- 
tion. . . . You  need  not  answer  it  if  you  do  not  wish,” 
he  added,  as  he  noted  a sudden  hard  look,  almost  of 
apprehension,  darting  through  her  eyes. 

“ What  is  it  ? ” she  asked  simply. 

“ Does  Sir  Percy  Buxeney  know  that  ...  I mean, 
does  he  know  the  part  you  played  in  the  arrest  of  the 
Marquis  de  St  Cyr  ? ” 

She  laughed  — a mirthless,  bitter,  contemptuous 
laugh,  which  was  like  a jarring  chord  in  the  music  of 
her  voice. 

“ That  I denounced  the  Marquis  de  St  Cyr,  you  mean, 
to  the  tribunal  that  ultimately  sent  him  and  all  his 
family  to  the  guillotine  ? Yes,  he  does  know.  . , . 1 

told  him  after  I married  him.  . . .” 

“ You  told  him  all  the  circumstances — which  sc  com- 
pletely exonerated  you  from  any  blame  ? ” 

“ It  was  too  late  to  talk  of  ‘ circumstances  * ; he 
heard  the  story  from,  other  sources ; my  confession 
came  too^tardily,  it  seems.  I could  no  longer  plead 
extenuating  circumstance#  : I could  not  bemcan  myself 
by  trying  to  explain—" 

“And?" 


THE  SECRET  ORCHARD 


65 

41  And  now  I have  the  satisfaction,  Armand,  of  know- 
ing that  the  biggest  fool  in  England  has  the  most  com- 
plete contempt  for  his  wife.” 

She  spoke  with  vehement  bitterness  this  time,  and 
Armand  St  Just,  who  loved  her  so  dearly,  felt  that  he  had 
placed  a somewhat  clumsy  finger,  upon  an  aching  wound. 

“But  Sir  Percy  loved  you,  Margot,”  he  repeated 
gently. 

“ Loved  me  ? — Well,  Armand,  I thought  at  one  time 
that  he  did,  or  I should  not  have  married  him.  1 dare- 
say,” she  added,  speaking  very  rapidly,  as  if  she  were 
glad  at  last  to  lay  down  a heavy  burden,  which  had 
oppressed  her  for  months,  “I  daresay  that  even  you 
thought — as  everybody  else  did — that  I married  Sir 
Percy  because  of  his  wealth — but  I assure  you,  dear, 
that  it  was  not  so.  He  seemed  to  worship  me  with  a 
curious  intensity  of  concentrated  passion,  which  went 
straight  to  my  heart.  I had  never  loved  any  one  before, 
as  you  know,  and  I was  four-and-twenty  then— so  I 
naturally  thought  that  it  was  not  in  my  nature  to  love. 
But  it  has  always  seemed  to  me  that  it  must  be  heavenly 
to  be  loved  blindly,  passionately,  wholly  . . . wor- 
shipped, in  fact — and  the  very  fact  that  Percy  was  slow 
and  stupid  was  an  attraction  for  me,  as  I thought  he 
would  love  me  all  the  more.  A clever  man  would 
naturally  have  other  interests,  an  ambitious  man  other 
hopes.  ...  I thought  that  a fool  would  worship,  and 
think  of  nothing  else.  And  I was  ready  to  respond, 
Armand ; I would  have  allowed  myself  to  be  worshipped, 
and  given  infinite  tenderness  in  return.  ...” 

She  sighed — and  there  was  a world  of  disillusionment 
In  that  sigh.  Armand  St  Just  had  allowed  her  to  speak 
on  without  interruption : he  listened  to  her,  whilst 
allowing  his  own  thoughts  to  run  riot.  It  was  terrible  to 


66 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


see  a young  and  beautiful  woman — a girl  in  all  but  name 
— still  standing  almost  at  the  threshold  of  her  life,  yet 
bereft  of  hope,  bereft  of  illusions,  bereft  of  those  golden 
and  fantastic  dreams,  which  should  have  made  her  youth 
one  long,  perpetual  holiday. 

Yet  perhaps — though  he  loved  his  sister  dearly — 
perhaps  he  understood  : he  had  studied  men  in  many 
countries,  men  of  all  ages,  men  of  every  grade  of  social 
and  intellectual  status,  and  inwardly  he  understood 
what  Marguerite  had  left  unsaid.  Granted  that  Percy 
Blakeney  was  dull-witted,  but  in  his  slow-going  mind, 
there  would  still  be  room  for  that  ineradicable  pride  of 
a descendant  of  a long  line  of  English  gentlemen  A 
Blakeney  had  died  on  Bosworth  Field,  anothei  had 
sacrificed  life  and  fortune  for  the  sake  of  a treacherous 
Stuart : and  that  same  pride — foolish  and  prejudiced  as 
the  republican  Armand  would  call  it — must  have  been 
stung  to  the  quick  on  hearing  of  the  sin  which  lay  at 
Lady  Blakeney’s  door.  She  had  been  young,  misguided, 
ill-advised  perhaps.  Armand  knew  that : and  those  who 
took  advantage  of  Marguerite’s  youth,  her  impulses  and 
imprudence,  knew  it  still  better;  but  Blakeney  was 
slow-witted,  he  would  not  listen  to  “ circumstances,” 
he  only  clung  to  facts,  and  these  had  shown  him  Lady 
Blakeney  denouncing  a fellow-man  to  a tribunal  that 
knew  no  pardon : and  the  contempt  he  would  feel  for 
the  deed  she  had  done,  however  unwittingly,  would  kill 
that  same  love  in  him,  in  which  sympathy  and  intellect- 
uality could  never  have  had  a part. 

Yet  even  now,  his  own  sister  puzzled  him.  Life  and 
love  have  such  strange  vagaries.  Could  it  be  that  with 
the  waning  of  her  husband’s  love,  Marguerite’s  heart  had 
awakened  with  love  for  him  ? Strange  extremes  meet  in 
love’s  pathway:  this  woman,  who  had  had  half  in- 


THE  SECRET  ORCHARD  67 

tellectual  Europe  at  her  feet,  might  perhaps  have  set  her 
affections  on  a fool.  Marguerite  was  gazing  out  towards 
the  sunset.  Armand  could  not  see  her  face,  but  pre- 
sently it  seemed  to  him  that  something  which  glittered 
for  a moment  in  the  golden  evening  light,  fell  from  her 
eyes  onto  her  dainty  fichu  of  lace. 

But  he  could  not  broach  that  subject  with  her.  He 
knew  her  strange,  passionate  nature  so  well,  and  knew 
that  reserve  which  lurked  behind  her  frank,  open  ways. 

They  had  always  been  together,  these  two,  for  their 
parents  had  died  when  Armand  was  still  a youth,  and 
Marguerite  but  a child.  He,  some  eight  years  her 
senior,  had  watched  over  her  until  her  marriage ; had 
chaperoned  her  during  those  brilliant  years  spent  in 
the  fiat  of  the  Rue  de  Richelieu,  and  had  seen  her 
enter  upon  this  new  life  of  hers,  here  in  England,  with 
much  sorrow  and  some  foreboding. 

This  was  his  first  visit  to  England  since  her  marriage, 
and  the  few  months  of  separation  had  already  seemed 
to  have  built  up  a slight,  thin  partition  between  brother 
and  sister ; the  same  deep,  intense  love  was  still  there, 
on  both  sides,  but  each  now  seemed  to  have  a secret 
orchard,  into  which  the  other  dared  not  penetrate. 

There  was  much  Armand  St  Just  could  not  tell  his 
sister ; the  political  aspect  of  the  revolution  in  France 
was  changing  almost  every  day ; she  might  not  under- 
stand how  his  own  views  and  sympathies  might  become 
modified,  even  as  the  excesses,  committed  by  those  who 
had  been  his  friends,  grew  in  horror  and  in  intensity. 
And  Marguerite  could  not  speak  to  her  brother  about 
the  secrets  of  her  heart;  she  hardly  understood  them 
herself,  she  only  knew  that,  in  the  midst  of  luxury,  she 
felt  lonely  and  unhappy. 

And  now  Armand  was  going  away ; she  feared  for  hit 


68 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


safety,  she  longed  for  his  presence.  She  would  not 
spoil  these  last  few  sadly-sweet  moments,  by  speaking 
about  herself.  She  led  him  gently  along  the  cliffs,  then 
down  to  the  beach ; their  arms  linked  in  one  another’s, 
they  had  still  so  much  to  say,  that  lay  just  outside  that 
secret  orchard  of  theirs. 


CHAPTER  VIII 


THE  ACCREDITED  AGllfT 

The  afternoon  was  rapidly  drawing  to  a close;  and  a 
long,  chilly  English  summer’s  evening  was  throwing  a 
misty  pall  over  the  green  Kentish  landscape. 

The  Day  Dream  had  set  sail,  and  Marguerite  Blake- 
ney  stood  alone  on  the  edge  of  the  cliff  for  over  an  hour, 
watching  those  white  sails,  which  bore  so  swiftly  away 
from  her  the  only  being  who  really  cared  for  her,  whom 
she  dared  to  love,  whom  she  knew  she  could  trust. 

Some  little  distance  away  to  her  left  the  lights  from 
the  coffee-room  of  “The  Fisherman’s  Rest”  glittered 
yellow  in  the  gathering  mist;  from  time  to  time  it 
seemed  to  her  aching  nerves  as  if  she  could  catch  from 
thence,  the  sound  of  merry-making  and  of  jovial  talk, 
or  even  that  perpetual,  senseless  laugh  of  her  husband’s, 
which  grated  continually  upon  her  sensitive  ears. 

Sir  Percy  had  had  the  delicacy  to  leave  her  severely 
alone.  She  supposed  that,  in  his  own  stupid,  good- 
natured  way,  he  may  have  understood  that  she  would 
wish  to  remain  alone,  while  those  white  sails  disappeared 
into  the  vague  horizon,  so  many  miles  away.  He,  whose 
notions  of  propriety  and  decorum  were  supersensitive, 
had  not  suggested  even,  that  an  attendant  should  remain 
within  call.  Marguerite  was  grateful  to  her  husband 
for  all  this ; she  always  tried  to  be  grateful  to  him  for 
his  thoughtfulness,  which  was  constant,  and  for  his 
generosity,  which  really  was  boundless.  She  tried  even 
6s 


70 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


at  times  to  curb  the  sarcastic,  bitter  thoughts  of  him, 
which  made  her — in  spite  of  herself — say  cruel,  insulting 
things,  which  she  vaguely  hoped  would  wound  him. 

Yes ! she  often  wished  to  wound  him,  to  make  him 
feel  that  she  too  held  him  in  contempt,  that  she  too  had 
forgotten  that  once  she  had  almost  loved  him.  Loved 
that  inane  fop ! whose  thoughts  seemed  unable  to  soar 
beyond  the  tying  of  a cravat  or  the  new  cut  of  a coat. 
Bah ! And  yet ! . . . vague  memories,  that  were  sweet 
and  ardent  and  attuned  to  this  calm  summer’s  evening, 
came  wafted  back  to  her  memory,  on  the  invisible  wings 
of  the  light  sea-breeze:  the  time  when  first  he  wor- 
shipped her;  he  seemed  so  devoted — a very  slave — 
and  there  was  a certain  latent  intensity  in  that  love 
which  had  fascinated  her. 

Then  suddenly  that  love,  that  devotion,  which  through- 
out his  courtship  she  had  looked  upon  as  the  slavish 
fidelity  of  a dog,  seemed  to  vanish  completely.  Twenty- 
four  hours  after  the  simple  little  ceremony  at  old  Si 
Roch,  she  had  told  him  the  story  of  how,  inadvertently, 
she  had  spoken  of  certain  matters  connected  with  the 
Marquis  de  St  Cyr  before  some  men — her  friends — 
who  had  used  this  information  against  the  unfortunate 
Marquis,  and  sent  him  and  his  family  to  the  guillotine. 

She  hated  the  Marquis.  Years  ago,  Armand,  her  dear 
brother,  had  loved  Angble  de  St  Cyr,  but  St  Just  was  a 
plebeitfri,  and  the  Marquis  full  of  the  pride  and  arrogant 
prejudices  of  his  caste.  One  day  Armand,  the  respect- 
ful, timid  lover,  ventured  on  sending  a small  poem — 
enthusiastic,  ardent,  passionate  — to  the  idol  of  his 
dreams.  The  next  night  he  was  waylaid  just  outside 
Paris  by  the  valets  of  the  Marquis  de  St  Cyr,  and 
ignominiously  thrashed — thrashed  like  a dog  within  an 
inch  of  his  life — because  he  had  dared  to  raise  his  eyes 


THE  ACCREDITED  AGENT 


7i 


to  the  daughter  of  the  aristocrat.  The  incident  was  one 
which,  in  those  days,  some  two  years  before  the  great 
Revolution,  was  of  almost  daily  occurrence  in  France; 
incidents  of  that  type,  in  fact,  led  to  the  bloody  reprisals, 
which  a few  years  later  sent  most  of  those  haughty  heads 
to  the  guillotine. 

Marguerite  remembered  it  all : what  her  brother  must 
have  suffered  in  his  manhood  and  his  pride  must  have 
been  appalling ; what  she  suffered  through  him  and  with 
him  she  never  attempted  even  to  analyse. 

Then  the  day  of  retribution  came.  St  Cyr  and  his 
kind  had  found  their  masters,  in  those  same  plebeians 
whom  they  had  despised.  Armand  and  Marguerite,  both 
intellectual,  thinking  beings,  adopted  with  the  enthusiasm 
of  their  years  the  Utopian  doctrines  of  the  Revolution, 
while  the  Marquis  de  St  Cyr  and  his  family  fought  inch 
by  inch  for  the  retention  of  those  privileges,  which  had 
placed  them  socially  above  their  fellow-men.  Marguerite, 
impulsive,  thoughtless,  not  calculating  the  purport  of  her 
words,  still  smarting  under  the  terrible  insult  her  brother 
had  suffered  at  the  Marquis’  hands,  happened  to  hear — 
amongst  her  own  coterie — that  the  St  Cyrs  were  in 
treasonable  correspondence  with  Austria,  hoping  to 
obtain  the  Emperor’s  support  to  quell  the  growing 
revolution  in  their  own  country. 

In  those  days  one  denunciation  was  sufficient : Mar- 
guerite’s few  thoughtless  words,  anent  the  Marquis  de 
St  Cyr,  bore  fruit  within  twenty-four  hom*s.  He  was 
arrested.  His  papers  were  searched:  letters  from  the 
Austrian  Emperor,  promising  to  send  troops  against  the 
Paris  populace,  were  found  in  his  desk.  He  was  arraigned 
for  treason  against  the  nation,  and  sent  to  the  guillotine, 
whilst  his  family,  his  wife  and  his  sons,  shared  this  awful 
fate. 


72 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


Marguerite,  horrified  at  the  terrible  consequences  of 
her  own  thoughtlessness,  was  powerless  to  save  the 
Marquis  : her  own  coterie,  the  leaders  of  the  revolutionary 
movement,  all  proclaimed  her  as  a heroine : and  when  she 
married  Sir  Percy  Blakeney,  she  did  not  perhaps  alto- 
gether realise  how  severely  he  would  look  upon  the  sin, 
which  she  had  so  inadvertently  committed,  and  which 
still  lay  heavily  upon  her  soul.  She  made  full  confession 
of  it  to  her  husband,  trusting  to  his  blind  love  for  her, 
her  boundless  power  over  him,  to  soon  make  him  forget 
what  might  have  sounded  unpleasant  to  an  English  ear. 

Certainly  at  the  moment  he  seemed  to  take  it  very 
quietly ; hardly,  in  fact,  did  he  appear  to  understand  the 
meaning  of  all  she  said ; but  what  was  more  certain  still, 
was  that  never  after  that  could  she  detect  the  slightest 
sign  of  that  love,  which  she  once  believed  had  been 
wholly  hers.  Now  thov  had  drifted  quite  apart,  and 
Sir  Percy  seemed  to  have  laid  aside  his  love  for  her, 
as  he  would  an  ill-fitting  glove.  She  tried  to  rouse  him 
by  sharpening  her  ready  wit  against  his  dull  intellect; 
endeavoured  to  excite  his  jealousy,  if  she  could  not  rouse 
his  love;  tried  to  goad  him  to  self-assertion,  but  all  in 
vain.  He  remained  the  same,  always  passive,  drawling, 
sleepy,  always  courteous,  invariably  a gentleman  : she 
had  all  that  the  world  and  a wealthy  husband  can  give 
to  a pretty  woman,  yet  on  this  beautiful  summer’s  even- 
ing, with  the  white  sails  of  the  Day  Dream  finally  hidden 
by  the  evening  shadows,  she  felt  more  lonely  than  that 
poor  tramp  who  plodded  his  way  wearily  along  the  rugged 
cliffs. 

With  another  heavy  sigh,  Marguerite  Blakeney  turned 
her  back  upon  the  sea  and  cliffs,  and  walked  slowly  back 
towards  “The  Fisherman’s  Rest.”  As  she  drew  near,  the 
sound  of  revelry,  of  gay,  jovial  laughter,  grew  louder  and 


THE  ACCREDITED  AGENT 


7 3 


more  distinct.  She  could  distinguish  Sir  Andrew 
Ffoulkes’  pleasant  voice,  Lord  Tony’s  boisterous  guffaws, 
her  husband’s  occasional,  drawly,  sleepy  comments ; 
then  realising  the  loneliness  of  the  road  and  the  fast 
gathering  gloom  round  her,  she  quickened  her  steps  . . . 
the  next  moment  she  perceived  a stranger  coming  rapidly 
towards  her.  Marguerite  did  not  look  up : she  was  not 
the  least  nervous,  and  “The  Fisherman’s  Rest”  was 
now  well  within  call. 

The  stranger  paused  when  he  saw  Marguerite  coming 
quickly  towards  him,  and  just  as  she  was  about  to  slip 
past  him,  he  said  very  quietly  : 

“ Citoyenne  St  Just.” 

Marguerite  uttered  a little  cry  of  astonishment,  at  thus 
hearing  her  own  familiar  maiden  name  uttered  so  close 
to  her.  She  looked  up  at  the  stranger,  and  this  time, 
with  a cry  of  unfeigned  pleasure,  she  put  out  both  hei 
hands  effu:  towards  him. 

“ Chauvelin  1 ” she  exclaimed. 

“ Himself,  citoyenne,  at  your  service,”  said  the  stranger, 
gallantly  kissing  the  tips  of  her  fingers. 

Marguerite  said  nothing  for  a moment  or  two,  as  she 
surveyed  with  obvious  delight  the  not  very  prepossessing 
little  figure  before  her.  Chauvelin  was  then  nearer  forty 
than  thirty — a clever,  shrewd-looking  personality,  with  a 
curious  fox-like  expression  in  the  deep,  sunken  eyes.  He 
was  the  same  stranger  who  an  hour  or  two  previously 
had  joined  Mr  Jellyband  in  a friendly  glass  of  wine. 

“Chauvelin  . . . my  friend  . . .”  said  Marguerite, 
with  a pretty  little  sigh  of  satisfaction.'  “ I am  mightily 
pleased  to  see  you.” 

No  doubt  poor  Marguerite  St  Just,  lonely  in  the  midst 
of  her  grandeur,  and  of  her  starchy  friends,  was  happy 
to  see  a face  that  broughj  back  memories  of  that  happy 


7 4 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


time  in  Paris,  when  she  reigned — a queen — over  the 
intellectual  coterie  of  the  Rue  de  Richelieu.  She  did  not 
notice  the  sarcastic  little  smile,  however,  that  hovered 
round  the  thin  lips  of  Chauvelin. 

“ But  tell  me,”  she  added  merrily,  “ what  in  the  world, 
Dr  whom  in  the  world,  are  you  doing  here  in  England  ? ” 

She  had  resumed  her  walk  towards  the  inn,  and 
Chauvelin  turned  and  walked  beside  her. 

“ I might  return  the  subtle  compliment,  fair  lady,”  he 
said.  “ What  of  yourself?  ” 

“ Oh,  I ? ” she  said,  with  a shrug  of  the  shoulders.  “ Je 
m’ennuie,  mon  ami,  that  is  all.” 

They  had  reached  the  porch  of  “ The  Fisherman’s  Rest,” 
but  Marguerite  seemed  loth  to  go  within.  The  evening 
air  was  lovely  after  the  storm,  and  she  had  found  a friend 
who  exhaled  the  breath  of  Paris,  who  knew  Armand 
well,  who  could  talk  of  all  the  merry,  brilliant  friends 
whom  she  had  left  behind.  So  she  lingered  on  under 
the  pretty  porch,  while  through  the  gaily-lighted  dormer- 
window  of  the  coffee-room  came  sounds  of  laughter,  of  calls 
for  “ Sally  ” and  for  beer,  of  tapping  of  mugs,  and  clinking 
of  dice,  mingled  with  Sir  Percy  Blakeney’s  inane  and 
mirthless  laugh.  Chauvelin  stood  beside  her,  his  shrewd, 
pale,  yellow  eyes  fixed  on  the  pretty  face,  which  looked  so 
sweet  and  childlike  in  this  soft  English  summer  twilight. 

“You  surprise  me,  citoyenne,”  he  said  quietly,  as  he 
took  a pinch  of  snuff. 

“Do  I now?”  she  retorted  gaily.  “Faith,  my  little 
Chauvelin,  I should  have  thought  that,  with  your  pene- 
tration, you  would  have  guessed  that  an  atmosphere 
composed  of  fogs  and  virtues  would  never  suit  Marguerite 
St  Just.” 

“ Dear  me  1 is  it  as  bad  as  that  ? ” he  asked,  in  mock 
consternation. 


THE  ACCREDITED  AGENT 


75 


“Quite,”  she  retorted,  “and  worse.” 

“Strange!  Now,  I thought  that  a pretty  woman 
would  have  found  English  country  life  peculiarly  at- 
tractive.” 

“Yes!  so  did  I,”  she  said  with  a sigh.  “Pretty 
women,” she  added  meditatively,  “ought  to  have  a good 
time  in  England,  since  all  the  pleasant  things  are  for- 
bidden them — the  very  things  they  do  every  day." 

“ Quite  so  ! ” 

“You’ll  hardly  believe  it,  my  little  Chauvelin,”  she 
said  earnestly,  “ but  I often  pass  a whole  day — a whole 
day — without  encountering  a single  temptation.” 

“ No  wonder,” retorted  Chauvelin,  gallantly,  “that the 
cleverest  woman  in  Europe  is  troubled  with  ennui.” 

She  laughed  one  of  her  melodious,  rippling,  childlike 
laughs. 

“ It  must  be  pretty  bad,  mustn’t  it  ? ” she  said  archly, 
“or  I should  not  have  been  so  pleased  to  see  you.” 

“ And  this  within  a year  of  a romantic  love  match ! . . .” 

“Yes!  ...  a year  of  a romantic  love  match  . . . 
that’s  just  the  difficulty  ...” 

“Ah!  . . . that  idyllic  folly,”  said  Chauvelin,  with 
quiet  sarcasm,  “ did  not  then  survive  the  lapse  of  . . . 
weeks  ? ” 

“ Idyllic  follies  never  last,  my  little  Chauvelin.  . . . 
They  come  upon  us  like  the  measles  . . . and  are  as 
easily  cured.” 

Chauvelin  took  another  pinch  of  snuff:  he  seemed 
very  much  addicted  to  that  pernicious  habit,  so  prevalent 
in  those  days ; perhaps,  too,  he  found  the  taking  of  snuff 
a convenient  veil  for  disguising  the  quick,  shrewd  glances 
with  which  he  strove  to  read  the  very  souls  of  those  with 
whom  he  came  in  contact. 

“No  wonder,”  he  repeated,  with  the  same  gallantry, 


76  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

“that  the  most  active  brain  in  Europe  is  troubled  with 
ennui." 

“ I was  in  hopes  that  you  had  a prescription  against 
the  malady,  my  little  Chauvelin.” 

“ How  can  I hope  to  succeed  in  that  which  Sir  Percy 
Blakeney  has  failed  to  accomplish  ? ” 

“Shall  we  leave  Sir  Percy  out  of  the  question  for 
the  present,  my  dear  friend  ? ” she  said  drily. 

“Ah ! my  dear  lady,  pardon  me,  but  that  is  just  what 
we  cannot  very  well  do,”  said  Chauvelin,  whilst  once 
again  his  eyes,  keen  as  those  of  a fox  on  the  alert,  darted 
a quick  glance  at  Marguerite.  “ I have  a most  perfect 
prescription  against  the  worst  form  of  ennui. , which  I 
would  have  been  happy  to  submit  to  you,  but — ” 

“ But  what  ? ” 

“ There  is  Sir  Percy.” 

“What  has  he  to  do  with  it  ? ” 

“ Quite  a good  deal,  I am  afraid.  The  prescription  I 
would  offer,  fair  lady,  is  called  by  a very  plebeian  name : 
Work ! ” 

“Work?” 

Chauvelin  looked  at  Marguerite  long  and  scrutinis- 
ingly.  It  seemed  as  if  those  keen,  pale  eyes  of  his  were 
reading  every  one  of  her  thoughts.  They  were  alone 
together ; the  evening  air  was  quite  still,  and  their  soft 
whispers  were  drowned  in  the  noise  which  came  from 
the  coffee-room.  Still,  Chauvelin  took  a step  or  two 
from  under  the  porch,  looked  quickly  and  keenly  all 
round  him,  then,  seeing  that  indeed  no  one  was  within 
earshot,  he  once  more  came  back  close  to  Marguerite. 

“Will  you  render  France  a small  service,  citoyenne?” 
he  asked,  with  a sudden  change  of  manner,  which  lent 
his  thin,  fox-like  face  singular  earnestness. 

u La,  man ! ” she  replied  flippantly,  “ how  serious  you 


THE  ACCREDITED  AGENT 


77 

look  all  of  a sudden.  . . . Indeed  ] do  not  know  if  I 
would  render  France  a small  service — at  anyrate,  it 
depends  upon  the  kind  of  service  she — or  you — want.” 

“Have  you  ever  heard  of  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel, 
Citoyenne  St  Just?”  asked  Chauvelin,  abruptly. 

“ Heard  of  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel  ? ” she  retorted  with 
a long  and  merry  laugh,  “ Faith,  man  ! we  talk  of  nothing 
else.  . . . We  have  hats  1 k la  Scarlet  Pimpernel' ; our 
horses  are  called  * Scarlet  Pimpernel  * ; at  the  Prince  of 
Wales’  supper  party  the  other  night  we  had  a ‘ souffle 
k la  Scarlet  Pimpernel.’  . . . Lud!”  she  added  gaily, 
“the  other  day  I ordered  at  my  milliner’s  a blue  dress 
trimmed  with  green,  and,  bless  me,  if  she  did  not  call 
that  ‘ k la  Scarlet  Pimpernel.’  ” 

Chauvelin  had  not  moved  while  she  prattled  merrily 
along ; he  did  not  even  attempt  to  stop  her  when  her 
musical  voice  and  her  childlike  laugh  went  echoing 
through  the  still  evening  air.  But  he  remained  serious 
and  earnest,  whilst  she  laughed,  and  his  voice,  clear, 
incisive,  and  hard,  was  not  raised  above  his  breath  as 
he  said, — 

“ Then,  as  you  have  heard  of  that  enigmatical  person- 
age, citoyenne,  you  must  also  have  guessed,  and  known, 
that  the  man  who  hides  his  identity  under  that  strange 
pseudonym,  is  the  most  bitter  enemy  of  our  republic, 
of  France  ...  of  men  like  Armand  St  Just.” 

“ La ! . . .”  she  said,  with  a quaint  little  sigh,  “ I dare 
swear  he  is.  . . . France  has  many  bitter  enemies 
these  days.” 

“ But  you,  citoyenne,  are  a daughter  of  France,  and 
should  be  ready  to  help  her  in  a moment  of  deadly  peril.” 

“ My  brother  Armand  devotes  his  life  to  France,”  she 
retorted  proudly ; “ as  for  me,  I car  do  nothing  . . . 
here  in  England.  . . 


78  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

“ Yes,  you  . . he  urged  still  more  earnestly,  whilst 
his  thin  fox-like  face  seemed  suddenly  to  have  grown 
impressive  and  full  of  dignity,  “here,  in  England, 
citoyenne  . . . you  alone  can  help  us.  . . . Listen ! — 
I have  been  sent  over  here  by  the  Republican  Govern- 
ment as  its  representative : I present  my  credentials  to 
Mr  Pitt  in  London  to-morrow.  One  of  my  duties  here 
is  to  find  out  all  about  this  League  of  the  Scarlet  Pimper- 
nel, which  has  become  a standing  menace  to  France, 
since  it  is  pledged  to  help  our  cursed  aristocrats — traitors 
to  their  country,  and  enemies  of  the  people-  —to  escape 
from  the  just  punishment  which  they  deserve.  You 
know  as  well  as  I do,  citoyenne,  that  once  they  are  over 
here,  those  French  emigres  try  to  rouse  public  feeling 
against  the  Republic.  . . . They  are  ready  to  join  issue 
with  any  enemy  bold  enough  to  attack  France.  . . . 
Now,  within  the  last  month,  scores  of  these  imigres^ 
some  only  suspected  of  treason,  others  actually  con- 
demned by  the  Tribunal  of  Public  Safety,  have  succeeded 
in  crossing  the  Channel.  Their  escape  in  each  instance 
was  planned,  organised  and  effected  by  this  society  of 
young  English  jackanapes,  headed  by  a man  whose 
brain  seems  as  resourceful  as  his  identity  is  mysterious. 
All  the  most  strenuous  efforts  on  the  part  of  my  spies 
have  failed  to  discover  who  he  is ; whilst  the  others  are 
the  hands,  he  is  the  head,  who,  beneath  this  strange 
anonymity  calmly  works  at  the  destruction  of  France. 
I mean  to  strike  at  that  head,  and  for  this  I want  your 
help — through  him  afterwards  I can  reach  the  rest  of 
the  gang:  he  is  a young  buck  in  English  society,  of 
that  I feel  sure.  Find  that  man  for  me,  citoyenne  1 ” he 
urged,  “ find  him  for  France  I ” 

Marguerite  had  listened  to  Chauvelin’s  impassioned 
speech  without  uttering  a word,  scarce  making  a move- 


THE  ACCREDITED  AGENT 


79 


ment,  hardly  daring  to  breathe.  She  had  told  him  before, 
that  this  mysterious  hero  of  romance  was  the  talk  of  the 
smart  set  to  which  she  belonged ; already,  before  this, 
her  heart  and  her  imagination  had  been  stirred  by  the 
thought  of  the  brave  man,  who,  unknown  to  fame,  had 
rescued  hundreds  of  lives  from  a terrible,  often  an  un- 
merciful fate.  She  had  but  little  real  sympathy  with 
those  haughty  French  aristocrats,  insolent  in  their  pride 
of  caste,  of  whom  the  Comtesse  de  Tournay  de  Basserive 
was  so  typical  an  example;  but,  republican  and  liberal- 
minded  though  she  was  from  principle,  she  hated  and 
loathed  the  methods  which  the  young  Republic  had 
chosen  for  establishing  itself.  She  had  not  been  in 
Paris  for  some  months ; the  horrors  and  bloodshed  of 
the  Reign  of  Terror,  culminating  in  the  September  mas- 
sacres, had  only  come  across  the  Channel  to  her  as  a 
faint  echo.  Robespierre,  Danton,  Marat,  she  had  not 
known  in  their  new  guise  of  bloody  justiciaries,  merci- 
less wielders  of  the  guillotine.  Her  very  soul  recoiled 
in  horror  from  these  excesses,  to  which  she  feared  her 
brother  Armand— moderate  republican  as  he  was — 
might  become  one  day  the  holocaust. 

Then,  when  first  she  heard  of  this  band  of  young 
English  enthusiasts,  who,  for  sheer  love  of  their  fellow- 
men,  dragged  women  and  children,  old  and  young  men, 
from  a horrible  death,  her  heart  had  glowed  with  pride 
for  them,  and  now,  as  Chauvelin  spoke,  her  very  soul 
went  out  to  the  gallant  and  mysterious  leader  of  the 
reckless  little  band,  who  risked  his  life  daily,  who 
gave  it  freely  and  without  ostentation,  for  the  sake 
of  humanity. 

Her  eyes  were  moist  when  Chauvelin  had  finished 
speaking,  the  lace  at  her  bosom  rose  and  fell  with  her 
quick,  excited  breathing ; she  no  longer  heard  the  noise  of 


8o 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


drinking  from  the  inn,  she  did  not  heed  her  husband’s 
voice  or  his  inane  laugh,  her  thoughts  had  gone  wandering 
in  search  of  the  mysterious  hero  ! Ah  ! there  was  a man 
she  might  have  loved,  had  he  come  her  way : everything 
in  him  appealed  to  her  romantic  imagination ; his  per- 
sonality, his  strength,  his  bravery,  the  loyalty  of  those 
who  served  under  him  in  the  same  noble  cause,  and, 
above  all,  that  anonymity  which  crowned  him,  as  if  with 
a halo  of  romantic  glory. 

“ Find  him  for  France,  citoyenne  ! n 

Chauvelin’s  voice  close  to  her  ear  roused  her  from  her 
dreams.  The  mysterious  hero  had  vanished,  and,  not 
twenty  yards  away  from  her,  a man  was  drinking  and 
laughing,  to  whom  she  had  sworn  faith  and  loyalty. 

44  La ! man,”  she  said  with  a return  of  hei  assumed 
flippancy,  44  you  are  astonishing.  Where  in  the  world 
am  I to  look  for  him  ? ” 

“You  go  everywhere,  citoyenne,”  whispered  Chau- 
velin,  insinuatingly,  “Lady  Blakeney  is  the  pivot  of 
social  London,  so  I am  told  . . . you  see  everything, 
you  hear  everything.” 

“Easy,  my  friend,”  retorted  Marguerite,  drawing  her- 
self up  to  her  full  height  and  looking  down,  with  a slight 
thought  of  contempt  on  the  small,  thin  figure  before  her. 
“ Easy ! you  seem  to  forget  that  there  are  six  feet  of  Sir 
Percy  Blakeney,  and  a long  line  of  ancestors  to  stand 
between  Lady  Blakeney  md  such  a thing  as  you  propose.” 

“For  the  sake  of  France,  citoyenne  I”  reiterated 
Chauvelin,  earnestly. 

“ Tush,  man,  you  talk  nonsense  anyway ; for  even  if 
you  did  know  who  this  Scarlet  Pimpernel  is,  you  could 
do  nothing  to  him — an  Englishman  ! ” 

“ I’d  take  my  chance  of  that,”  said  Chauvelin,  with  a 
dry,  rasping  little  laugh.  “At  anyrate  we  could  send 


THE  ACCREDITED  AGENT 


81 


him  to  the  guillotine  first  to  cool  his  ardour,  then,  when 
there  is  a diplomatic  fuss  about  it,  we  caD  apologise — 
humbly — to  the  British  Government,  and,  if  necessary, 
pay  compensation  to  the  bereaved  family.” 

“What  you  propose  is  horrible.  Chauvelin,”  she  said, 
drawing  away  from  him  as  from  some  noisome  insect. 
“Whoever  the  man  may  be.  he  is  brave  and  noble,  and 
never — do  you  hear  me  ? — never  would  I lend  a hand  to 
such  villainy.” 

“ You  prefer  to  be  insulted  by  every  French  aristocrat 
who  comes  to  this  country  ? ” 

Chauvelin  had  taken  sure  aim  when  he  shot  this  tiny 
shaft.  Marguerite’s  fresh  young  cheeks  became  a 
thought  more  pale  and  she  bit  her  under  lip,  for  she 
would  not  let  him  see  that  the  shaft  had  struck  home. 

“That  is  beside  the  question,”  she  said  at  last  with 
indifference.  “ I can  defend  myself,  but  I refuse  to  do 
any  dirty  work  for  you — or  for  France.  You  have  other 
means  at  your  disposal ; you  must  use  them,  my  friend.” 

And  without  another  look  at  Chauvelin,  Marguerite 
Blakeney  turned  her  back  on  him  and  walked  straight 
into  the  inn. 

“ That  is  not  your  last  word,  citoyenne,”  said  Chau* 
velin,  as  a flood  of  light  from  the  passage  illumined  her 
elegant,  richly-clad  figure,  “ we  meet  in  London,  I hope ! ” 

“ We  meet  in  London,”  she  said,  speaking  over  her 
shoulder  at  him,  “ but  that  is  my  last  word.” 

She  threw  open  the  coffee-room  door  and  disappeared 
from  his  view,  but  he  remained  under  the  porch  for  a 
moment  or  two,  taking  a pinch  of  snuff.  He  had  re- 
ceived a rebuke  and  a snub,  but  his  shrewd,  fox-like 
face  looked  neither  abashed  nor  disappointed;  on  the 
contrary,  a curious  smile,  half  sarcastic  and  wholly 
satisfied,  played  around  the  corners  of  his  thin  lips. 


CHAPTER  IX 


THE  OUTRAGE 

A beautiful  starlit  night  had  followed  on  the  day  o! 
incessant  rain:  a cool,  balmy,  late  summer’s  night, 
essentially  English  in  its  suggestion  of  moisture  and 
scent  of  wet  earth  and  dripping  leaves. 

The  magnificent  coach,  drawn  by  four  of  the  finest 
thoroughbreds  in  England,  had  driven  off  along  the 
London  road,  with  Sir  Percy  Blakeney  on  the  box, 
holding  the  reins  in  his  slender  feminine  hands,  and 
beside  him  Lady  Blakeney  wrapped  in  costly  furs.  A 
fifty-mile  drive  on  a starlit  summer’s  night  1 Marguerite 
had  hailed  the  notion  of  it  with  delight.  ...  Sir  Percy 
was  an  enthusiastic  whip ; his  four  thoroughbreds,  which 
had  been  sent  down  to  Dover  a couple  of  days  before, 
were  just  sufficiently  fresh  and  restive  to  add  zest  to  the 
expedition,  and  Marguerite  revelled  in  anticipation  of 
the  few  hours  of  solitude,  with  the  soft  night  breeze 
fanning  her  cheeks,  her  thoughts  wandering,  whither 
away?  She  knew  from  old  experience  that  Sir  Percy 
would  speak  little,  if  at  all : he  had  often  driven  her  on 
his  beautiful  coach  for  hours  at  night,  from  point  to 
point,  without  making  more  than  one  or  two  casual 
remarks  upon  the  weather  or  the  state  of  the  roads.  He 
was  very  fond  of  driving  by  night,  and  she  had  very 
quickly  adopted  his  fancy : as  she  sat  next  to  him  hour 
after  hour,  admiring  the  dexterous,  certain  way  in  which 
he  handled  the  reins,  she  often  wondered  what  went  on 
8a 


THE  OUTRAGE  83 

in  that  slow-going  head  of  his.  He  never  told  her,  and 
she  had  never  cared  to  ask. 

At  “ The  Fisherman’s  Rest”  Mr  Jellyband  was  going 
the  round,  putting  out  the  lights.  His  bar  customers 
had  all  gone,  but  upstairs  in  the  snug  little  bedrooms, 
Mr  Jellyband  had  quite  a few  important  guests:  the 
Comtesse  de  Tournay,  with  Suzanne,  and  the  Vicomte, 
and  there  were  two  more  bedrooms  ready  for  Sir 
Andrew  Ffoulkes  and  Lord  Antony  Dewhurst,  if  the 
two  young  men  should  elect  to  honour  the  ancient 
hostelry  and  stay  the  night. 

For  the  moment  these  two  young  gallants  were  com- 
fortably installed  in  the  coffee-room,  before  the  huge 
log-fire,  which,  in  spite  of  the  mildness  of  the  evening, 
had  been  allowed  to  burn  merrily. 

“ I say,  Jelly,  has  everyone  gone?  ” asked  Lord  Tony, 
as  the  worthy  landlord  still  busied  himself  clearing  away 
glasses  and  mugs. 

“ Everyone,  as  you  see,  my  lord.” 

“ And  all  your  servants  gone  to  bed  ? ” 

“ All  except  the  boy  on  duty  in  the  bar,  and,”  added 
Mr  Jellyband  with  a laugh,  “I  expect  he’ll  be  asleep 
afore  long,  the  rascal.” 

“Then  we  can  talk  here  undisturbed  for  half  an 
hour  ? ” 

“ At  your  service,  my  lord.  ...  I’ll  leave  your  candles 
on  the  dresser  . . . and  your  rooms  are  quite  ready  . . . 
I sleep  at  the  top  of  the  house  myself,  but  if  your  lord- 
ship’ll only  call  loudly  enough,  I daresay  I shall  hear.” 

“All  right,  Jelly  . . . and  ...  I say,  put  the  lamp 
out — the  fire’ll  give  us  all  the  light  we  need — and  we 
don’t  want  to  attract  the  passer-by.” 

“ All  ri’,  my  lord.” 

Mr  Jellyband  did  as  he  was  bid — he  turned  out  the 


84  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

quaint  old  lamp  that  hung  from  the  raftered  ceiling  and 
blew  out  all  the  candles. 

“Let’s  have  a bottle  of  wine,  Jelly,”  suggested  Sir 
Andrew. 

“ All  ri’,  sir  ! ” 

Jellyband  went  off  to  fetch  the  wine.  The  room 
now  was  quite  dark,  save  for  the  circle  of  ruddy  and  fitful 
light  formed  by  the  brightly  blazing  logs  in  the  hearth. 

“Is  that  all,  gentlemen?”  asked  Jellyband,  as  he 
returned  with  a bottle  of  wine  and  a couple  of  glasses, 
which  he  placed  on  the  table. 

“That’ll  do  nicely,  thanks,  Jelly  ! ” said  Lord  Tony. 

“ Good-night,  my  lord  ! Good-night,  sir ! ” 

“ Good-night,  Jelly  ! ” 

The  two  young  men  listened,  whilst  the  heavy  tread 
of  Mr  Jellyband  was  heard  echoing  along  the  passage 
and  staircase.  Presently  even  that  sound  died  out, 
and  the  whole  of  “The  Fisherman’s  Rest”  seemed 
wrapt  in  sleep,  save  the  two  young  men  drinking  in 
silence  beside  the  hearth. 

For  a while  no  sound  was  heard,  even  in  the  coffee- 
room,  save  the  ticking  of  the  old  grandfather’s  clock 
and  the  crackling  of  the  burning  wood. 

“All  right  again  this  time,  Ffoulkes?”  asked  Lord 
Antony  at  last. 

Sir  Andrew  had  been  dreaming  evidently,  gazing 
into  the  fire,  and  seeing  therein,  no  doubt,  a pretty, 
piquant  face,  with  large  brown  eyes  and  a wealth  of 
dark  curls  round  a childish  forehead. 

“ Yes  ! ” he  said,  still  musing,  “ all  right  1 ” 

“No  hitch?” 

“None.” 

Lord  Antony  laughed  pleasantly  as  be  poured  himself 
out  another  glass  of  wine. 


THE  OUTRAGE  85 

" I need  not  ask,  I suppose,  whether  you  found  the 
journey  pleasant  this  time  ? * 

“ No,  friend,  you  need  not  ask,’*  replied  Sir  Andrew, 
gaily.  “ It  was  all  right.  ’ 

“Then  here’s  to  her  very  good  health,”  said  jovial 
Lord  Tony.  “She’s  a bonnie  lass,  though  she  is  a 
French  one.  And  here’s  to  your  courtship — may  it 
flourish  and  prosper  exceedingly.  * 

He  drained  his  glass  to  the  last  drop,  then  joined  his 
friend  beside  the  hearth. 

“Well!  you’ll  be  doing  the  journey  next,  Tony,  I 
expect,”  said  Sir  Andrew,  rousing  himself  from  his 
meditations,  “ you  and  Hastings,  certainly ; and  I hope 
you  may  have  as  pleasant  a task  as  I had,  and  as 
charming  a travelling  companion.  You  have  no  idea, 
Tony 

“No!  I haven’t,”  interrupted  his  friend  pleasantly, 
“but  I’ll  take  your  word  for  it.  And  now,”  he  added, 
whilst  a sudden  earnestness  crept  over  his  jovial  young 
face,  “how  about  business?” 

The  two  young  men  drew  their  chairs  closer  together, 
and  instinctively,  though  they  were  alone,  their  voices 
sank  to  a whisper. 

“I  saw  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel  alone,  for  a few 
moments  in  Calais,”  said  Sir  Andrew,  “a  day  or  two 
ago.  He  crossed  over  to  England  two  days  before 
we  did.  He  had  escorted  the  party  all  the  way  from 
Paris,  dressed — you’ll  never  credit  it ! — as  an  old  market 
woman,  and  driving — until  they  were  safely  out  of  the 
city — the  covered  cart,  under  which  the  Comtesse  de 
Tournay,  Mile.  Suzanne,  and  the  Vicomte  lay  concealed 
among  the  turnips  and  cabbages.  They,  themselves,  of 
course,  never  suspected  who  their  driver  was.  He  drove 
them  right  through  a line  of  soldiery  and  a yelling 


86 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


mob,  who  were  screaming,  ‘A  bas  les  aristas!*  But 
the  market  cart  got  through  along  with  some  others, 
and  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel,  in  shawl,  petticoat  and  hood, 
yelled  ‘ A bas  les  aristos  ! ’ louder  than  anybody.  Faith ! ” 
added  the  young  man,  as  his  eyes  glowed  with  en- 
thusiasm for  the  beloved  leader,  “ that  man’s  a marvel ! 
His  cheek  is  preposterous,  I vow ! — and  that’s  what 
carries  him  through.” 

Lord  Antony,  whose  vocabulary  was  more  limited 
than  that  of  his  friend,  could  only  find  an  oath  or  two 
with  which  to  show  his  admiration  for  his  leader. 

“He  wants  you  and  Hastings  to  meet  him  at  Calais,” 
said  Sir  Andrew,  more  quietly,  “on  the  and  of  next 
month.  Let  me  see  I that  will  be  next  Wednesday.” 

“Yes.” 

“ It  is,  of  course,  the  case  of  the  Comte  de  Tournay, 
this  time ; a dangerous  task,  for  the  Comte,  whose 
escape  from  his  chateau,  after  he  had  been  declared  a 
‘suspect’  by  the  Committee  of  Public  Safety,  was  a 
masterpiece  of  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel’s  ingenuity,  is 
now  under  sentence  of  death.  It  will  be  rare  sport 
to  get  him  out  of  France,  and  you  will  have  a narrow 
escape,  if  you  get  through  at  all.  St  Just  has  actually 
gone  to  meet  him — of  course,  no  one  suspects  St  Just 
as  yet ; but  after  that  ...  to  get  them  both  out  of  the 
country ! I’faith,  ’twill  be  a tough  job,  and  tax  even  the 
ingenuity  of  our  chief.  I hope  I may  yet  have  order* 
to  be  of  the  party.” 

“Have  you  any  special  instructions  for  me?” 

“Yes!  rather  more  precise  ones  than  usual.  It 
appears  that  the  Republican  Government  have  sent 
an  accredited  agent  over  to  England,  a man  named 
Chauvelin,  who  is  said  to  be  terribly  bitter  against 
our  league,  and  determined  to  discover  the  identity  of 


THE  OUTRAGE 


87 

our  leader,  so  that  he  may  have  him  kidnapped,  the 
next  time  he  attempts  to  set  foot  in  France.  This 
Chauvelin  has  brought  a whole  army  of  spies  with 
him,  and  until  the  chief  has  sampled  the  lot,  he  thinks 
we  should  meet  as  seldom  as  possible  on  the  business 
of  the  league,  and  on  no  account  should  talk  to  each 
other  in  public  places  for  a time.  When  he  wants  to 
speak  to  us,  he  will  contrive  to  let  us  know.” 

The  two  young  men  were  both  bending  over  the  fire, 
for  the  blaze  had  died  down,  and  only  a red  glow  from 
the  dying  embers  cast  a lurid  light  on  a narrow  semi- 
circle in  front  of  the  hearth.  The  rest  of  the  room  lay 
buried  in  complete  gloom ; Sir  Andrew  had  taken  a 
pocket-book  from  his  pocket,  and  drawn  therefrom  a 
paper,  which  he  unfolded,  and  together  they  tried  to 
read  it  by  the  dim  red  firelight.  So  intent  were  they 
upon  this,  so  wrapt  up  in  the  cause,  the  business  they 
had  so  much  at  heart,  so  precious  was  this  document 
which  came  from  the  very  hand  of  their  adored  leader, 
that  they  had  eyes  and  ears  only  for  that.  They  lost 
count  of  the  sounds  around  them,  of  the  dropping  of 
crisp  ash  from  the  grate,  of  the  monotonous  ticking 
of  the  clock,  of  the  soft,  almost  imperceptible  rustle 
of  something  on  the  floor  close  beside  them.  A figure 
had  emerged  from  under  one  of  the  benches ; with 
snake-like,  noiseless  movements  it  crept  closer  and 
closer  to  the  two  young  men,  not  breathing,  only 
gliding  along  the  floor,  in  the  inky  blackness  of  the 
room. 

“You  are  to  read  these  instructions  and  commit 
them  to  memory,”  said  Sir  Andrew,  “then  destroy 
them.” 

He  was  about  to  replace  the  letter-case  into  his 
pocket,  when  a tiny  slip  of  paper  fluttered  from  it  and 


88 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


fell  on  to  the  floor.  Lord  Antony  stooped  and  picked 
it  up. 

“ What’s  that  ? ” he  asked. 

11 1 don’t  know,”  replied  Sir  Andrew. 

*'  It  dropped  out  of  your  pocket  just  now.  It  certainly 
did  not  seem  to  be  with  the  other  paper.” 

“Strange! — I wonder  when  it  got  there?  It  is  from 
the  chief,”  he  added,  glancing  at  the  paper. 

Both  stooped  to  try  and  decipher  this  last  tiny  scrap 
of  paper  on  which  a few  words  had  been  hastily  scrawled, 
when  suddenly  a slight  noise  attracted  their  attention, 
which  seemed  to  come  from  the  passage  beyond. 

**  What’s  that  ? ” said  both  instinctively.  Lord  Antony 
crossed  the  room  towards  the  door,  which  he  threw  open 
quickly  and  suddenly ; at  that  very  moment  he  received 
a stunning  blow  between  the  eyes,  which  threw  him  back 
violently  into  the  room.  Simultaneously  the  crouching, 
snake-like  figure  in  the  gloom  had  jumped  up  and  hurled 
itself  from  behind  upon  the  unsuspecting  Sir  Andrew, 
felling  him  to  the  ground. 

All  this  occurred  within  the  short  space  of  two  or  three 
seconds,  and  before  either  Lord  Antony  or  Sir  Andrew 
had  time  or  chance  to  utter  a cry  or  to  make  the  faintest 
struggle.  They  were  each  seized  by  two  men,  a muffler 
was  quickly  tied  round  the  mouth  of  each,  and  they  were 
pinioned  to  one  another  back  to  back,  their  arms,  hands, 
and  legs  securely  fastened. 

One  man  had  in  the  meanwhile  quietly  shut  the  door ; 
he  wore  a mask  and  now  stood  motionless  while  the 
others  completed  their  work. 

“All  safe,  citoyen  !”  said  one  of  the  men,  as  he  took 
a final  survey  of  the  bonds  which  secured  the  two  young 
men. 

“Goodl”  replied  the  man  at  the  door;  “now 


THE  OUTRAGE  89 

search  their  pockets  and  give  me  all  the  papers  you 
find.” 

This  was  promptly  and  quietly  done.  The  masked 
man  having  taken  possession  of  all  the  papers,  listened 
for  a moment  or  two  if  there  were  any  sound  within  “ The 
Fisherman’s  Rest.”  Evidently  satisfied  that  this 
dastardly  outrage  had  remained  unheard,  he  once  more 
opened  the  door  and  pointed  peremptorily  down  the 
passage.  The  four  men  lifted  Sir  Andrew  and  Lord 
Antony  from  the  ground,  and  as  quietly,  as  noiselessly 
as  they  had  come,  they  bore  the  two  pinioned  young 
gallants  out  of  the  inn  and  along  the  Dover  Road  into 
the  gloom  beyond. 

In  the  coffee-room  the  masked  leader  of  this  daring 
attempt  was  quickly  glancing  through  the  stolen  papers. 

“Not  a bad  day’s  work  on  the  whole,”  he  muttered, 
as  he  quittjy  took  off  his  mask,  and  his  pale,  fox-like 
eyes  glittered  in  the  red  glow  of  the  fire.  “Not  a bad 
day’s  work.” 

He  opened  one  or  two  more  letters  from  Sir  Andrew 
Ffoulkes’  pocket-book,  noted  the  tiny  scrap  of  paper 
which  the  two  young  men  had  only  just  had  time  to 
read;  but  one  letter  specially,  signed  Armai'd  St  Just, 
seemed  to  give  him  strange  satisfaction. 

“ Armand  St  Just  a traitor  after  all,”  he  murmured. 
*Now,  fair  Marguerite  Blakeney,”  he  added  viciously 
between  his  clenched  teeth,  “ I think  that  you  will  help 
me  to  find  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel.” 


CHAPTER  X 


IN  THE  OPERA  BOX 

It  was  one  of  the  gala  nights  at  Covent  Garden  Theatre, 
the  first  of  the  autumn  season  in  this  memorable  year  of 
grace  1792. 

The  house  was  packed,  both  in  the  smart  orchestra 
boxes  and  the  pit,  as  well  as  in  the  more  plebeian 
balconies  and  galleries  above.  Gluck’s  Orphtus 
made  a strong  appeal  to  the  more  intellectual 
portions  of  the  house,  whilst  the  fashionable  women, 
the  gaily-dressed  and  brilliant  throng,  spoke  to 
the  eye  of  those  who  cared  but  little  for  this  “latest 
importation  from  Germany.” 

Selina  Storace  had  been  duly  applauded  after  her 
grand  aria  by  her  numerous  admirers ; Benjamin 
Incledon,  the  acknowledged  favourite  of  the  ladies,  had 
receiveo  special  gracious  recognition  from  the  royal  box ; 
and  now  the  curtain  came  down  after  the  glorious  finale 
to  the  second  act,  and  the  audience,  which  had  hung 
spell-bound  on  the  magic  strains  of  the  great  maestro, 
seemed  collectively  to  breathe  a long  sigh  of  satisfaction, 
previous  to  letting  loose  its  hundreds  of  waggish  and 
frivolous  tongues. 

In  the  smart  orchestra  boxes  many  well-known  faces 
were  to  be  seen.  Mr  Pitt,  overweighted  with  cares  of 
state,  was  finding  brief  relaxation  in  to-night’s  musical 
treat;  the  Prince  of  Wales,  jovial,  rotund,  somewhat 


IN  THE  OPERA  BOX 


9i 


coarse  and  commonplace  in  appearance,  moved  about 
from  box  to  box,  spending  brief  quarters  of  an  hour  with 
those  of  his  more  intimate  friends. 

In  Lord  Grenville’s  box,  too,  a curious,  interesting 
personality  attracted  everyone’s  attention ; a thin,  small 
figure  with  shrewd,  sarcastic  face  and  deep-set  eyes, 
attentive  to  the  music,  keenly  critical  of  the  audience, 
dressed  in  immaculate  black,  with  dark  hair  free  from 
any  powder.  Lord  Grenville — Foreign  Secretary  of 
State — paid  him  marked,  though  frigid  deference. 

Here  and  there,  dotted  about  among  distinctly  English 
types  of  beauty,  one  or  two  foreign  faces  stood  out  in 
marked  contrast the  haughty  aristocratic  cast  of  coun- 
tenance of  the  many  French  royalist  emigres  who,  per- 
secuted by  the  relentless,  revolutionary  faction  of  their 
country,  had  found  a peaceful  refuge  in  England.  On 
these  faces  sorrow  and  care  were  deeply  writ ; the  women 
especially  paid  but  little  heed,  either  to  the  music  or  to 
the  brilliant  audience ; no  doubt  their  thoughts  were  far 
away  with  husband,  brother,  son  maybe,  still  in  peril,  or 
lately  succumbed  to  a cruel  fate. 

Among  these  the  Comtesse  de  Tournay  de  Basserive, 
but  lately  arrived  from  France,  was  a most  conspicuous 
figure : dressed  in  deep,  heavy  black  silk,  with  only  a 
white  lace  kerchief  to  relieve  the  aspect  of  mourning 
about  her  person,  she  sat  beside  Lady  Portarles,  who 
was  vainly  trying  by  witty  sallies  and  somewhat  broad 
jokes,  to  bring  a smile  to  the  Comtesse’s  sad  mouth. 
Behind  her  sat  little  Suzanne  and  the  Vicomte,  both 
silent  and  somewhat  shy  among  so  many  strangers. 
Suzanne’s  eyes  seemed  wistful ; when  she  first  entered 
the  crowded  house,  she  had  looked  eagerly  all  round, 
scanned  every  face,  scrutinised  every  box.  Evidently 
the  one  face  she  wished  to  see  was  not  there,  for  she 


92 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


settled  herself  down  quietly  behind  her  mother,  listened 
apathetically  to  the  music,  and  took  no  further  interest 
in  the  audience  itself. 

“ Ah,  Lord  Grenville  said  Lady  Portarles,  as  follow- 
ing a discreet  knock,  the  clever,  interesting  head  of  the 
Secretary  of  State  appeared  in  the  doorway  of  the  box, 
“ you  could  not  arrive  more  & propos.  Here  is  Madame 
la  Comtesse  de  Tournay  positively  dying  to  hear  the 
latest  news  from  France.” 

The  distinguished  diplomatist  had  come  forward  and 
was  shaking  hands  with  the  ladies. 

“ Alas  ! ” he  said  sadly,  “ it  is  of  the  very  worst.  The 
massacres  continue ; Paris  literally  reeks  with  blood ; and 
the  guillotine  claims  a hundred  victims  a day.” 

Pale  and  tearful,  the  Comtesse  was  leaning  back  in  her 
chair,  listening  horror-struck  to  this  brief  and  graphic 
account  of  what  went  on  in  her  own  misguided  country. 

“Ah,  Monsieur  !”  she  said  in  broken  English,  “it  is 
dreadful  to  hear  all  that — and  my  poor  husband  still  in 
that  awful  country.  It  is  terrible  for  me  to  be  sitting 
here,  in  a theatre,  ail  safe  and  in  peace,  whilst  he  is  in 
such  peril.” 

“ Lud,  Madame ! ” said  honest,  bluff  Lady  Portarles, 
“your  sitting  in  a convent  won’t  make  your  husband 
safe,  and  you  have  your  children  to  consider : they  are 
too  young  to  be  dosed  with  anxiety  and  premature 
mourning.” 

The  Comtesse  smiled  through  her  tears  at  the 
vehemence  of  her  friend.  Lady  Portarles,  whose  voice 
and  manner  would  not  have  misfitted  a jockey,  had  a 
heart  of  gold,  and  hid  the  most  genuine  sympathy  and 
most  gentle  kindliness,  beneath  the  somewhat  coarse 
manners  affected  by  some  ladies  at  that  time. 

“Besides  which,  Madame,”  added  Lord  Grenville, 


IN  THE  OPERA  BOX 


93 

u did  you  not  tell  me  yesterday  that  the  League  of  the 
Scarlet  Pimpernel  had  pledged  their  honour  to  bring 
M.  le  Comte  safely  across  the  Channel  ? ” 

“ Ah,  yes ! ” replied  the  Comtesse,  “ and  that  is  my 
only  hope.  I saw  Lord  Hastings  yesterday  ...  he 
reassured  me  again.” 

“ Then  I am  sure  you  need  have  no  fear.  What  the 
league  have  sworn,  that  they  surely  will  accomplish. 
Ah ! ” added  the  old  diplomatist  with  a sigh,  “ if  I were 
but  a few  years  younger  ...” 

“ La,  man  ! ” interrupted  honest  Lady  Portarles,  “ you 
are  still  young  enough  to  turn  your  back  on  that  French 
scarecrow  that  sits  enthroned  in  your  box  to-night.” 

“ I wish  I could  . . . but  your  ladyship  must  remem- 
ber that  in  serving  our  country  we  must  put  prejudices 
aside.  M.  Chauvelin  is  the  accredited  agent  of  his 
Government  ...” 

“ Odd’*  fish,  man ! ” she  retorted,  11  you  don't  call 
those  bloodthirsty  ruffians  over  there  a government,  do 
you  ? ” 

“ It  has  not  been  thought  advisable  as  yet,”  said  the 
Minister,  guardedly,  “ for  England  to  break  off  diplomatic 
relations  with  France,  and  we  cannot  therefore  refuse  to 
receive  with  courtesy  the  agent  she  wishes  to  send  to  us.” 

“Diplomatic  relations  be  demmed,  my  lord!  That 
sly  little  fox  over  there  is  nothing  but  a spy,  I’ll  warrant, 
and  you'll  find — an  I'm  much  mistaken,  that  he'll  con- 
cern himself  little  with  diplomacy,  beyond  trying  to  do 
mischief  to  royalist  refugees — to  our  heroic  Scarlet  Pim- 
pernel and  to  the  members  of  that  brave  little  league.” 

“ I am  sure,”  said  the  Comtesse,  pursing  up  her  thin 
lips,  “ that  if  this  Chauvelin  wishes  to  do  us  mischief,  he 
will  find  a faithful  ally  in  Lady  Blakeney.” 

“ Bless  the  woman  ! ” ejaculated  Lady  Portarles,  “ did 


94 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


ever  anyone  see  such  perversity  ? My  Lord  Grenville, 
you  h£ve  the  gift  of  the  gab,  will  you  please  explain  t« 
Madame  la  Comtesse  that  she  is  acting  like  a fool.  In 
your  position  here  in  England,  Madame,”  she  added, 
turning  a wrathful  and  resolute  face  towards  the 
Comtesse,  “you  cannot  afford  to  put  on  the  hoity-toity 
airs  you  French  aristocrats  are  so  fond  of.  Lady 
Blakeney  may  or  may  not  be  in  sympathy  with  those 
ruffians  in  France ; she  may  or  may  not  have  had  anything 
to  do  with  the  arrest  and  condemnation  of  St  Cyr,  or 
whatever  the  man’s  name  is,  but  she  is  the  leader  of 
fashion  in  this  country;  Sir  Percy  Blakeney  has  more 
money  than  any  half-dozen  other  men  put  together,  he  is 
hand  and  glove  with  royalty,  and  your  trying  to  snub 
Lady  Blakeney  will  not  harm  her,  but  will  make  you 
look  a fool.  Isn’t  that  so,  my  lord  ? ” 

But  what  Lord  Grenville  thought  of  this  matter,  or  to 
what  reflections  this  homely  tirade  of  Lady  Portarles  led 
the  Comtesse  de  Tournay,  remained  unspoken,  for  the 
curtain  had  just  risen  on  the  third  act  of  Orphtusy 
and  admonishments  to  silence  came  from  every  part 
of  the  house. 

Lord  Grenville  took  a hasty  farewell  of  the  ladies  and 
slipped  back  into  his  box,  where  M.  Chauvelin  had  sat 
all  through  this  entSacte,  with  his  eternal  snuff-box  in 
his  hand,  and  with  his  keen  pale  eyes  intently  fixed  upon 
a box  opposite  to  him,  where,  with  much  frou-frou  of 
silken  skirts,  much  laughter  and  general  stir  of  curiosity 
amongst  the  audience,  Marguerite  Blakeney  had  just 
entered,  accompanied  by  her  husband,  and  looking 
divinely  pretty  beneath  the  wealth  of  her  golden,  reddish 
curls,  slightly  besprinkled  with  powder,  and  tied  back  at 
the  nape  of  her  graceful  neck  with  a gigantic  black  bow. 
Always  dressed  in  the  very  latest  vagary  of  fashion, 


IN  THE  OPERA  BOX 


93 


Marguerite  alone  among  the  ladies  that  night  had  dis- 
carded the  cross-over  fichu  and  broad-lapelled  over- 
dress, which  had  been  in  fashion  for  the  last  two  or 
three  years.  She  wore  the  short-waisted  classical-shaped 
gown,  which  so  soon  was  to  become  the  approved  mode 
in  every  country  in  Europe.  It  suited  her  graceful,  regal 
figure  to  perfection,  composed  as  it  was  of  shimmering 
stuff  which  seemed  a mass  of  rich  gold  embroidery. 

As  she  entered,  she  leant  for  a moment  out  of  the  box, 
taking  stock  of  all  those  present  whom  she  knew.  Many 
bowed  to  her  as  she  did  so,  and  from  the  royal  box  there 
came  also  a quick  and  gracious  salute. 

Chauvelin  watched  her  intently  all  through  the  com- 
mencement of  the  third  act,  as  she  sat  enthralled  with 
the  music,  her  exquisite  little  hand  toying  with  a small 
jewelled  fan,  her  regal  head,  her  throat,  arms  and  neck, 
covered  with  magnificent  diamonds  and  rare  gems, 
the  gift  of  the  adoring  husband  who  sprawled  leisurely 
by  her  side. 

Marguerite  was  passionately  fond  of  music,  Orpheus 
charmed  her  to-night.  The  very  joy  of  living  was  writ 
plainly  upon  the  sweet  young  face,  it  sparkled  out  of  the 
merry  blue  eyes  and  lit  up  the  smile  that  lurked  around  the 
lips.  She  was  after  all  but  five-and-twenty,  in  the  hey- 
day of  youth,  the  darling  of  a brilliant  throng,  adored, 
fited , petted,  cherished.  Two  days  ago  the  Day 
Dream  had  returned  from  Calais,  bringing  her  news 
that  her  idolised  brother  had  safely  landed,  that 
he  thought  of  her,  and  would  be  prudent  for  her 
sake. 

What  wonder  for  the  moment,  and  listening  to  Gluck’s 
impassioned  strains,  that  she  forgot  her  disillusionments, 
forgot  her  vanished  love-di earns,  forgot  even  the  lazy, 
good-humoured  nonentity  who  had  made  up  for  his 


96  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

lack  of  spiritual  attainments  by  lavishing  worldly  ad* 
vantages  upon  her. 

He  had  stayed  beside  her  in  the  box  just  as  long  as 
convention  demanded,  making  way  for  His  Royal 
Highness,  and  for  the  host  of  admirers  who  in  a con- 
tinued procession  came  to  pay  homage  to  the  queen 
of  fashion.  Sir  Percy  had  strolled  away,  to  talk  to 
more  congenial  friends  probably.  Marguerite  did  not 
even  wonder  whither  he  had  gone — she  cared  so  little; 
she  had  had  a little  court  round  her,  composed  of 
the  jcutiesse  doree  of  London,  and  had  just  dismissed 
them  all,  wishing  to  be  alone  with  Gluck  for  a brief 
while. 

A discreet  knock  at  the  door  roused  her  from  her 
enjoyment. 

“Come  in,*’ she  said  with  some  impatience,  without 
turning  to  look  at  the  intruder. 

Chauvelin,  waiting  for  his  opportunity,  noted  that 
she  was  alone,  and  now,  without  pausing  for  that 
impatient  “ Come  in,”  he  quietly  slipped  into  the  box, 
and  the  next  moment  was  standing  behind  Marguerite’s 
chair. 

“A  word  with  you,  citoyenne,”  he  said  quietly. 

Marguerite  turned  quickly,  in  alarm,  which  was  cot 
altogether  feigned. 

“ Lud,  man ! you  frightened  me,”  she  said  with  a 
forced  little  laugh,  “your  presence  is  entirely  inoppor- 
tune. I want  to  listen  to  Gluck,  and  have  no  mind  for 
talking.” 

“ But  this  is  my  only  opportunity,”  he  said,  as  quietly, 
and  without  waiting  for  permission,  he  drew  a chair  close 
behind  her — so  close  that  he  could  whisper  in  her  ear, 
without  disturbing  the  audience,  and  without  being  seen, 
in  the  dark  background  of  the  box.  “ This  is  my  only 


IN  THE  OPERA  BOX 


97 


opportunity,”  he  repeated,  as  she  vouchsafed  him  no 
reply,  “Lady  Blakeney  is  always  so  surrounded,  so 
fttcd  by  her  court,  that  a mere  old  friend  has  but  very 
little  chance.” 

“ Faith,  man  ! ” she  said  impatiently,  “ you  must  seek 
for  another  opportunity  then.  I am  going  to  Lord 
Grenville’s  ball  to-night  after  the  opera.  So  are  you, 
probably.  I’ll  give  you  five  minutes  then  . . . 

“ Three  minutes  in  the  privacy  of  this  box  are  quite 
sufficient  for  me,”  he  rejoined  placidly,  “ and  I think 
that  you  would  be  wise  to  listen  to  me,  Citoyenne  St  Just.” 

Marguerite  instinctively  shivered.  Chauvelin  had  not 
raised  his  voice  above  a whisper;  he  was  now  quietly 
taking  a pinch  of  snuff,  yet  there  was  something  in  his 
attitude,  something  in  those  pale,  foxy  eyes,  which  seemed 
to  freeze  the  blood  in  her  veins,  as  would  the  sight  of 
some  deadly  hitherto  unguessed  peril. 

“ Is  that  a threat,  citoyen  ? ” she  asked  at  last. 

“ Nay,  fair  lady,”  he  said  gallantly,  “ only  an  arrow 
shot  into  the  air.” 

He  paused  a moment,  like  a cat  which  sees  a mouse 
running  heedlessly  by,  ready  to  spring,  yet  waiting  with 
that  feline  sense  of  enjoyment  of  mischief  about  to  be 
done.  Then  he  said  quietly — 

“Your  brother,  St  Just,  is  in  peril.” 

Not  a muscle  moved  in  the  beautiful  face  before  him. 
He  could  only  see  it  in  profile,  for  Marguerite  seemed 
to  be  watching  the  stage  intently,  but  Chauvelin  was  a 
keen  observer;  he  noticed  the  sudden  rigidity  of  the 
eyes,  the  hardening  of  the  mouth,  the  sharp,  almost 
paralysed,  tension  of  the  beautiful,  graceful  figure. 

“Lud,  then,”  she  said,  with  affected  merriment,  “since 
’tis  one  of  your  imaginary  plots,  you’d  best  go  back  to 
your  own  seat  and  leave  me  to  enjoy  the  music.” 


98  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

And  with  her  hand  she  began  to  beat  time  nervously 
against  the  cushion  of  the  box.  Selina  Storace  was 
singing  the  “Che  faro”  to  an  audience  that  hung  spell* 
bound  upon  the  prima  donna’s  lips.  Chauvelin  did  net 
move  from  his  seat ; he  quietly  watched  that  tiny  nervous 
hand,  the  only  indication  that  his  shaft  had  indeed  struck 
home. 

“ Well  ? ” she  said  suddenly  and  irrelevantly,  and  with 
the  same  feigned  unconcern. 

“ Well,  citoyenne  ? ” he  rejoined  placidly, 

“ About  my  brother  ? ” 

“ I have  news  of  him  for  you  which,  I think,  will 
interest  you,  but  first  let  me  explain.  . . . May  I ? ” 

The  question  was  unnecessary.  He  felt,  though 
Marguerite  still  held  her  head  steadily  averted  from  him, 
that  her  every  nerve  was  strained  to  hear  what  he  had 
to  say. 

“ The  other  day,  citoyenne,”  he  said,  “ I asked  for 
your  help.  . . . France  needed  it,  and  I thought  I could 
rely  on  you,  but  you  gave  me  your  answer.  . . . Since 
then  the  exigencies  of  my  own  affairs  and  your  own 
social  duties  have  kept  us  apart  . . . although  many 
things  have  happened.  . . 

“To  the  point,  I pray  you,  citoyen,”  she  said  lightly; 
“the  music  is  entrancing,  and  the  audience  will  get 
impatient  of  your  talk.” 

“ One  moment,  citoyenne.  The  day  on  which  I had 
the  honour  of  meeting  you  at  Dover,  and  less  than  an 
hour  after  I had  your  final  answer,  I obtained  possession 
of  some  papers,  which  revealed  another  of  those  subtle 
schemes  for  the  escape  of  a batch  of  French  aristocrats 
— that  traitor  de  Tournay  amongst  others — all  organised 
by  that  arch-meddler,  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel.  Some  of 
the  threads,  too,  of  this  mysterious  organisation  have 


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99 

fallen  into  my  hands,  but  not  all,  and  I want  you — nay ! 

you  must  help  me  to  gather  them  together.” 

Marguerite  seemed  to  have  listened  to  him  with 
marked  impatience ; she  now  shrugged  her  shoulders 
and  said  gaily — 

“ Bah  ! man.  Have  I not  already  told  you  that  I care 
nought  about  your  schemes  or  about  the  Scarlet  Pimper- 
nel. And  had  you  not  spoken  about  my  brother  . . 

11 A little  patience,  I entreat,  citoyenne,”  he  continued 
imperturbably.  “Two  gentlemen,  Lord  Antony  Dew- 
hurst  and  Sir  Andrew  Ffoulkes  were  at  * The  Fisherman’s 
Rest'  at  Dover  that  same  night.” 

“ I know.  I saw  them  there.” 

“ They  were  already  known  to  my  spies  as  members 
of  that  accursed  league.  It  was  Sir  Andrew  Ffoulkes 
who  escorted  the  Comtesse  de  Tournay  and  her  children 
across  the  Channel.  When  the  two  young  men  were 
alone,  my  spies  forced  their  way  into  the  coffee-room  of 
the  inn,  gagged  and  pinioned  the  two  gallants,  seized 
their  papers,  and  brought  them  to  me.” 

In  a moment  she  had  guessed  the  danger.  Papers  ? 
. . . Had  Armand  been  imprudent  ? . . . The  very 
thought  struck  her  with  nameless  terror.  Still  she  would 
not  let  this  man  see  that  she  feared ; she  laughed  gaily 
and  lightly. 

“ Faith  ! and  your  impudence  passes  belief,”  she  said 
merrily.  “ Robbery  and  violence  ! — in  England  ! — in  a 
crowded  inn  1 Your  men  might  have  been  caught  in  the 
act!” 

“What  if  they  had?  They  are  children  of  France, 
and  have  been  trained  by  your  humble  servant.  Had 
they  been  caught  they  would  have  gone  to  jail,  or  even 
to  the  gallows,  without  a word  of  protest  or  indiscretion ; 
at  anyrate  it  was  well  worth  the  risk.  A crowded  inn  is 


xoo  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


safer  for  these  little  operations  than  you  think,  and  my 
men  have  experience.” 

“ Well  ? And  those  papers  ? ” she  asked  carelessly. 

“ Unfortunately,  though  they  have  given  me  cognis- 
ance of  certain  names  . . . certain  movements  . . . 
enough,  I think,  to  thwart  their  projected  coup  for  the 
moment,  it  would  only  be  for  the  moment,  and  still 
leaves  me  in  ignorance  cf  the  identity  of  the  Scarlet 
Pimpernel.” 

“ La ! my  friend,”  she  said,  with  the  same  assumed 
flippancy  of  manner,  “then  you  are  where  you  were 
before,  aren’t  you  ? and  you  can  let  me  enjoy  the  last 
strophe  of  the  aria . Faith  ! ” she  added,  ostentatiously 
smothering  an  imaginary  yawn,  “ had  you  not  spoken 
about  my  brother  ...” 

“ I am  coming  to  him  now,  citoyenne.  Among  the 
papers  there  was  a letter  to  Sir  Andrew  Ffoulkes,  written 
by  your  brother,  St  Just.” 

“Well?  And?” 

**  That  letter  shows  him  to  be  not  only  in  sympathy 
with  the  enemies  of  France,  but  actually  a helper,  if  not 
a member,  of  the  League  of  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel.” 

The  blow  had  been  struck  at  last.  All  along,  Mar- 
guerite had  been  expecting  it ; she  would  not  show  fear, 
she  was  determined  to  seem  unconcerned,  flippant  even. 
She  wished,  when  the  shock  came,  to  be  prepared  for  it, 
to  have  all  her  wits  about  her — those  wits  which  had 
been  nicknamed  the  keenest  in  Europe.  Even  now  she 
did  not  flinch.  She  knew  that  Chauvelin  had  spoken 
the  truth ; the  man  was  too  earnest,  too  blindly  devoted 
to  the  misguided  cause  he  had  at  heart,  too  proud  of  his 
countrymen,  of  those  makers  of  revolutions,  to  stoop  to 
low,  purposeless  falsehoods. 

That  letter  of  Armand’s — foolish,  imprudent  Armand 


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IOI 


— was  in  Chauvelin's  hands.  Marguerite  knew  that  as 
if  she  had  seen  the  letter  with  her  own  eyes  ; and  Chau- 
velin would  hold  that  letter  for  purposes  of  his  own,  until 
it  suited  him  to  destroy  it  or  to  make  use  of  it  against 
Armand.  All  that  she  knew,  and  yet  she  continued  to 
laugh  more  gaily,  more  loudly  than  she  had  done  before. 

11  La,  man  ! ” she  said,  speaking  over  her  shoulder  and 
looking  him  full  and  squarely  in  the  face,  “ did  I not  say 
it  was  some  imaginary  plot.  . . . Armand  in  league  with 
that  enigmatic  Scarlet  Pimpernel ! . . . Armand  busy 
helping  those  French  aristocrats  whom  he  despises  ! . . . 
Faith,  the  tale  does  infinite  credit  to  your  imagination  ! ” 

“ Let  me  make  my  point  clear,  citoyenne,”  said 
Chauvelin,  with  the  same  unruffled  calm,  “ I must  assure 
you  that  St  Just  is  compromised  beyond  the  slightest 
hope  of  pardon.” 

Inside  the  orchestra  box  all  was  silent  for  a moment 
or  two.  Marguerite  sat,  straight  upright,  rigid  and  inert, 
trying  to  think,  trying  to  face  the  situation,  to  realise 
what  had  best  be  done. 

In  the  house  Storace  had  finished  the  aria>  and  was 
even  now  bowing  in  her  classic  garb,  but  in  approved 
eighteenth-century  fashion,  to  the  enthusiastic  audience, 
who  cheered  her  to  the  echo. 

“Chauvelin,”  said  Marguerite  Blakeney  at  last, 
quietly,  and  without  that  touch  of  bravado  which  had 
characterised  her  attitude  all  along,  “Chauvelin,  my 
friend,  shall  we  try  to  understand  one  another.  It 
seems  that  my  wits  have  become  rusty  by  contact  with 
this  damp  climate.  Now,  tell  me,  you  are  very  anxious 
to  discover  the  identity  of  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel,  isn’t 
that  so  ? ” 

“ France’s  most  bitter  enemy,  citoyenne  ...  all  the 
more  dangerous,  as  he  works  in  the  dark.’ 


ioa  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


“All  the  more  noble,  you  mean.  . . . Well! — and 
you  would  now  force  me  to  do  some  spying  work  for  you 
in  exchange  for  my  brother  Armand’s  safety? — Is  that  it?  ” 

“ Fie  1 two  very  ugly  words,  fair  lady,"  protested 
Chauvelin,  urbanely.  “ There  can  be  no  question  of 
force,  and  the  service  which  I would  ask  of  you,  in  the 
name  of  France,  could  never  be  called  by  the  shocking 
name  of  spying.” 

“ At  anyrate,  that  is  what  it  is  called  over  here,”  she 
said  drily.  “ That  is  your  intention,  is  it  not  ? ” 

“ My  intention  is,  that  you  yourself  win  a free  pardon 
for  Armand  St  Just  by  doing  me  a small  service.” 

“ What  is  it  ? ” 

“ Only  watch  for  me  to-night,  Citoyenne  St  Just,”  he 
said  eagerly.  “ Listen  : among  the  papers  which  were 
found  about  the  person  of  Sir  Andrew  Ffoulkes  there 
was  a tiny  note.  See  ! ” he  added,  taking  a tiny  scrap  of 
paper  from  his  pocket-book  and  handing  it  to  her. 

It  was  the  same  scrap  of  paper  which,  four  days  ago, 
the  two  young  men  had  been  in  the  act  of  reading,  at 
the  very  moment  when  they  were  attacked  by  Chauvelin’s 
minions.  Marguerite  took  it  mechanically  and  stooped 
to  read  it.  There  were  only  two  lines,  written  in  a dis- 
torted, evidently  disguised,  handwriting ; she  read  them 
half  aloud — 

“ 1 Remember  we  must  not  meet  more  often  than  is 
strictly  necessary.  You  have  all  instructions  for  the 
2nd.  If  you  wish  to  speak  to  me  again,  I shall  be  at 
G.’s  ball.’ " 

“ What  does  it  mean  ? ” she  asked. 

“ Look  again,  citoyenne,  and  you  will  understand." 

“There  a device  here  ir  the  corner,  a small  red 
flower  . , 


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103 


“Yes” 

“The  Scarlet  Pimpernel,”  she  said  eagerly,  “and 
G.’s  ball  means  Grenville’s  ball.  . . . He  will  be  at  my 
Lord  Grenville’s  ball  to-night.” 

“That  is  how  I interpret  the  note,  citoyenne,”  con- 
cluded Chauvelin,  blandly.  “ Lord  Antony  Dewhurst 
and  Sir  Andrew  Ffoulkes,  after  they  were  pinioned  and 
searched  by  my  spies,  were  carried  by  my  orders  to  a 
lonely  house  on  the  Dover  Road,  which  I had  rented 
for  the  purpose : there  they  remained  close  prisoners 
until  this  morning.  But  having  found  this  tiny  scrap  of 
paper,  my  intention  was  that  they  should  be  in  London, 
in  time  to  attend  my  Lord  Greville’s  ball.  You  see,  do 
you  not?  that  they  must  have  a great  deal  to  say  to 
their  chief . . . and  thus  they  will  have  an  opportunity  of 
speaking  to  him  to-night,  just  as  he  directed  them  to  do. 
Therefore,  this  morning,  those  two  young  gallants  found 
every  bar  and  bolt  open  in  that  lonely  house  on  the 
Dover  Road,  their  jailers  disappeared,  and  two  good 
horses  standing  ready  saddled  and  tethered  in  the  yard. 
I have  not  seen  them  yet,  but  I think  we  may  safely 
conclude  that  they  did  not  draw  rein  until  they  reached 
London.  Now  you  see  how  simple  it  all  is,  citoyenne  ! ” 

“ It  does  seem  simple,  doesn’t  it  ? ” she  said,  with  a 
final  bitter  attempt  at  flippancy,  “ when  you  want  to  kill 
a chicken  . . . you  take  hold  of  it  . . . then  you 
wring  its  neck  . . . it’s  only  the  chicken  who  does  not 
find  it  quite  so  simple.  Now  you  hold  a knife  at  my 
throat,  and  a hostage  for  my  obedience.  . . • You  find 
it  simple.  ...  I don’t.” 

“Nay,  citoyenne,  I offer  you  a chance  of  saving  the 
brother  you  love  from  the  consequences  of  his  own  folly.” 

Marguerite’s  face  softened,  her  eyes  at  last  grew 
moist,  as  she  murmured,  half  to  herself: 


104  THE  scarlet  pimpernel 

“ The  only  being  in  the  world  who  has  loved  me  truty 
and  constantly.  . . . But  what  do  you  want  me  to  do, 
Chauvelin  ? ” she  said,  with  a world  of  despair  in  her 
tear-choked  voice.  “ In  my  present  position,  it  is  well- 
nigh  impossible ! ” 

“ Nay,  citoyenne,”  he  said  drily  and  relentlessly,  not 
heeding  that  despairing,  childlike  appeal,  which  might 
have  melted  a heart  of  stone,  “ as  Lady  Blakeney,  no 
one  suspects  you,  and  with  your  help  to-night  I may 
— who  knows  ? — succeed  in  finally  establishing  the  iden- 
tity of  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel.  . . . You  are  going  to 
the  ball  anon.  . • . Watch  for  me  there,  citoyenne, 
watch  and  listen.  . . . You  can  tell  me  if  you  hear  a 
chance  word  or  whisper.  . . . You  can  note  everyone 
to  whom  Sir  Andrew  Ffoulkes  or  Lord  Antony  Dewhurst 
will  speak.  You  are  absolutely  beyond  suspicion  now. 
The  Scarlet  Pimpernel  will  be  at  Lord  Grenville’s  ball 
to-night.  Find  out  who  he  is,  and  I will  pledge  the 
word  of  France  that  your  brother  shall  be  safe.” 

Chauvelin  was  putting  the  knife  to  her  throat. 
Marguerite  felt  herself  entangled  in  one  of  those 
webs,  from  which  she  could  hope  for  no  escape.  A 
precious  hostage  was  being  held  for  her  obedience : for 
she  knew  that  this  man  would  never  make  an  empty 
threat.  No  doubt  Armand  was  already  signalled  to  the 
Committee  of  Public  Safety  as  one  of  the  “ suspect 
he  would  not  be  allowed  to  leave  France  again,  and 
would  be  ruthlessly  struck,  if  she  refused  to  obey 
Chauvelin.  For  a moment — woman-like — she  still 
hoped  to  temporise.  She  held  out  her  hand  to  this 
man,  whom  she  now  feared  and  hated. 

“ If  I promise  to  help  you  in  this  matter,  Chauvelin, 0 
she  said  pleasantly,  “will  you  give  :ue  that  letter  of 
St  Just’s?” 


IN  THE  OPERA  BOX 


105 

•*  If  you  render  me  useful  assistance  to-night,  citoy- 
enne,”  he  replied  with  a sarcastic  smile,  “I  will  give 
you  that  letter  . . . to-morrow.” 

“ You  do  not  trust  me  ? ” 

M I trust  you  absolutely,  dear  lady,  but  St  Just’s  life 
is  forfeit  to  his  country  ...  it  rests  with  you  to 
redeem  it.” 

“ I may  be  powerless  to  help  you,”  she  pleaded,  “ were 
I ever  so  willing.” 

“That  would  be  terrible  indeed,”  he  said  quietly, 
“for  you  . . . and  for  St  Just.” 

Marguerite  shuddered.  She  felt  that  from  this  man 
she  could  expect  no  mercy.  All-powerful,  he  held  the 
beloved  life  in  the  hollow  of  his  hand.  She  knew  him 
too  well  not  to  know  that,  if  he  failed  in  gaining  his 
own  ends,  he  would  be  pitiless. 

She  felt  cold  in  spite  of  the  oppressive  air  of  the 
opera-house.  The  heart-appealing  strains  of  the  music 
seemed  to  reach  her,  as  from  a distant  land.  She  drew 
her  costly  lace  scarf  up  around  her  shoulders,  and  sat 
silently  watching  the  brilliant  scene,  as  if  in  a dream. 

For  a moment  her  thoughts  wandered  away  from  the 
loved  one  who  was  in  danger,  to  that  other  man  who 
also  had  a claim  on  her  confidence  and  her  affection. 
She  felt  lonely,  frightened  for  Armand’s  sake ; she 
longed  to  seek  comfort  and  advice  from  some  one,  who 
would  know  how  to  help  and  console.  Sir  Percy 
Blakeney  had  loved  her  once ; he  was  her  husband ; 
why  should  she  stand  alone  through  this  terrible  ordeal? 
He  had  very  little  brains,  it  is  true,  but  he  had  plenty  of 
muscle  : surely,  if  she  provided  the  thought,  and  he  the 
manly  energy  and  pluck,  together  they  could  outwit  the 
astute  diplomatist,  and  save  the  hostage  from  his  venge- 
ful hands,  without  imperilling  the  life  of  the  noble 


10 6 THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


leader  of  that  gallant  little  band  of  heroes.  Sir  Percy 
knew  St  Just  well — he  seemed  attached  to  him — she 
was  sure  that  he  could  help. 

Chauvelin  was  taking  no  further  heed  of  her.  He 
had  said  his  cruel  “ Either — or — ” and  left  her  to  decide. 
He,  in  his  turn  now,  appeared  to  be  absorbed  in  the 
soul-stirring  melodies  of  Orphtus , and  was  beating  time 
to  the  music  with  his  sharp,  ferret-like  head. 

A discreet  rap  at  the  door  roused  Marguerite  from  her 
thoughts.  It  was  Sir  Percy  Blakeney,  tall,  sleepy,  good- 
humoured,  and  wearing  that  half-shy,  half-inane  smile, 
which  just  now  seemed  to  irritate  her  every  nerve. 

“ Er  . . . your  chair  is  outside  . . . m’dear,”  he  said, 
with  his  most  exasperating  drawl,  “ I suppose  you  will 
want  to  goto  that  demmed  ball.  . . . Excuse  me — er — 
Monsieur  Chauvelin — I had  not  observed  you.  . . 

He  extended  two  slender,  white  fingers  towards 
Chauvelin,  who  had  risen  when  Sir  Percy  entered  the 
box. 

“ Are  you  coming,  m’dear  ? " 

“ Hush ! Sh ! Sh  ! ” came  in  angry  remonstrance 
from  different  parts  of  the  house. 

“ Demmed  impudence,”  commented  Sir  Percy  with  a 
good-natured  smile. 

Marguerite  sighed  impatiently.  Her  last  hope  seemed 
suddenly  to  have  vanished  away.  She  wrapped  her 
cloak  round  her  and  without  looking  at  her  husband  : 

“ I am  ready  to  go,”  she  said,  taking  his  arm.  At 
the  door  of  the  box  she  turned  and  looked  straight  at 
Chauvelin,  who,  with  his  chapeau-bras  under  his  arm, 
and  a curious  smile  round  his  thin  lips,  was  preparing  to 
follow  the  strangely  ill-assorted  couple. 

“It  is  only  au  revoirt  Chauvelin,”  she  said  pleasantly, 
44  we  shall  meet  at  my  Lord  Grenville’s  ball,  anon.” 


IN  THE  OPERA  BOX 


so  7 


And  in  her  eyes  the  astute  Frenchman  read,  no  doubt, 
something  which  caused  him  profound  satisfaction,  for, 
with  a sarcastic  smile,  he  took  a delicate  pinch  of  snuff, 
then,  having  dusted  his  dainty  lace  jabot,  he  rubbed  hit 
thin,  bony  hands  contentedly  together. 


CHAPTER  XS 

lord  Grenville’s  ball 

The  historic  ball  given  by  the  then  Secretary  of  State 
for  Foreign  Affairs — Lord  Grenville — was  the  most 
brilliant  function  of  the  year.  Though  the  autumn 
season  had  only  just  begun,  everybody  who  was  any- 
body had  contrived  to  be  in  London  in  time  to  be 
present  there,  and  to  shine  at  this  ball,  to  the  best  of 
his  or  her  respective  ability. 

His  Royal  Highness  the  Prince  of  Wales  had  promised 
to  be  present.  He  was  coming  on  presently  from  the 
opera.  Lord  Grenville  himself  had  listened  to  the  two 
first  acts  of  Orpheus , before  preparing  to  receive  his 
guests.  At  ten  o’clock — an  unusually  late  hour  in  those 
days — the  grand  rooms  of  the  Foreign  Office,  exquisitely 
decorated  with  exotic  palms  and  flowers,  were  filled  to 
overflowing.  One  room  had  been  set  apart  for  dancing, 
and  the  dainty  strains  of  the  minuet  made  a soft  accom- 
paniment to  the  gay  chatter,  the  merry  laughter  of  the 
numerous  and  brilliant  company. 

In  a smaller  chamber,  facing  the  top  of  the  fine  stair- 
way, the  distinguished  host  stood  ready  to  receive  his 
guests.  Distinguished  men,  beautiful  women,  not- 
abilities from  every  European  country  had  already  filed 
past  him,  had  exchanged  the  elaborate  bows  and  curtsies 
with  him,  which  the  extravagant  fashion  of  the  time  de- 
manded, and  then,  laughing  and  talking,  had  dispersed 
in  the  ball,  reception,  and  card  rooms  beyond. 

zoS 


LORD  GRENVILLE’S  BALL 


109 


Not  far  from  Lord  Grenville’s  elbow,  leaning  against 
one  of  the  console  tables,  Chauveiin,  in  his  irreproach- 
able black  costume,  was  taking  a quiet  survey  of  the 
brilliant  throng.  He  noted  that  Sir  Percy  and  Lady 
Blakeney  had  not  yet  arrived,  and  his  keen,  pale  eyes 
glanced  quickly  towards  the  door  every  time  a new- 
comer appeared. 

He  stood  somewhat  isolated:  the  envoy  of  the  Re- 
volutionary Government  of  France  was  not  likely  to  be 
very  popular  in  England,  at  a time  when  the  news  of  the 
awful  September  massacres,  and  of  the  Reign  of  Terror 
and  Anarchy,  had  just  begun  to  filtrate  across  the 
Channel. 

In  his  official  capacity  he  had  been  received  cour- 
teously by  his  English  colleagues : Mr  Pitt  had  shaken 
him  by  the  hand ; Lord  Grenville  had  entertained  him 
more  than  once ; but  the  more  intimate  circles  of 
London  society  ignored  him  altogether ; the  women 
openly  turned  their  backs  upon  him ; the  men  who  held 
no  official  position  refused  to  shake  his  hand. 

But  Chauveiin  was  not  the  man  to  trouble  himself 
about  these  social  amenities,  which  he  called  mere 
incidents  in  his  diplomatic  career.  He  was  blindly 
enthusiastic  for  the  revolutionary  cause,  he  despised 
all  social  inequalities,  and  he  had  a burning  love  for 
his  own  country : these  three  sentiments  made  him 
supremely  indifferent  to  the  snubs  he  received  in  this 
fog-ridden,  loyalist,  old-fashioned  England. 

But,  above  all,  Chauveiin  had  a purpose  at  heart.  He 
firmly  believed  that  the  French  aristocrat  was  the  most 
bitter  enemy  of  France ; he  would  have  wished  to  see 
every  one  of  them  annihilated : he  was  one  of  those  who, 
during  this  awful  Reign  of  Terror,  had  been  the  first  to 
litter  the  historic  and  ferocious  desire  “ that  aristocrats 


no  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


might  have  but  one  head  between  them,  so  that  it 
might  be  cut  off  with  a single  stroke  of  the  guillotine.” 
And  thus  he  looked  upon  every  French  aristocrat,  who 
had  succeeded  in  escaping  from  France,  as  so  much 
prey  of  which  the  guillotine  had  been  unwarrantably 
cheated.  There  is  no  doubt  that  those  royalist  cmigr'est 
once  they  had  managed  to  cross  the  frontier,  did  their 
very  best  to  stir  up  foreign  indignation  against  France. 
Plots  without  end  were  hatched  in  England,  in  Belgium, 
in  Holland,  to  try  and  induce  some  great  power  to 
send  troops  into  revolutionary  Paris,  to  free  King 
Louis,  and  to  summarily  hang  the  bloodthirsty  leaders 
of  that  monster  republic. 

Small  wonder,  therefore,  that  the  romantic  and  mys- 
terious personality  of  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel  was  a 
source  of  bitter  hatred  to  Chauvelin.  He  and  the  few 
young  jackanapes  under  his  command,  well  furnished 
with  money,  armed  with  boundless  daring,  and  acute 
cunning,  had  succeeded  in  rescuing  hundreds  of  aristo- 
crats from  France.  Nine-tenths  of  the  emigres , who 
were  ftted  at  the  English  court,  owed  their  safety  to 
that  man  and  to  his  league. 

Chauvelin  had  sworn  to  his  colleagues  in  Paris 
that  he  would  discover  the  identity  of  that  meddlesome 
Englishman,  entice  him  over  to  France,  and  then  . . . 
Chauvelin  drew  a deep  breath  of  satisfaction  at  the 
very  thought  of  seeing  that  enigmatic  head  falling 
under  the  knife  of  the  guillotine,  as  easily  as  that  of 
any  other  man. 

Suddenly  there  was  a great  stir  on  the  handsome 
staircase,  all  conversation  stopped  for  a moment  as  the 
major-domo’s  voice  outside  announced, — 

“ His  Royal  Highness  the  Prince  of  Wales  and  suite, 
Sir  Percy  Blakeney,  Lady  Blakeney.” 


LORD  GRENVILLE’S  BALL  in 


Lord  Granville  went  quickly  to  the  door  to  receive  his 
exalted  guest. 

The  Prince  of  Wales,  dressed  in  a magnificent  court 
suit  of  salmon-coloured  velvet  richly  embroidered  with 
gold,  entered  with  Margaret  Blakeney  on  his  arm ; and 
on  his  left  Sir  Percy,  in  gorgeous  shimmering  cream 
satin,  cut  in  the  extravagant  “ Incroyable  ” style,  his  fair 
hair  free  from  powder,  priceless  lace  at  his  neck  and 
wrists,  and  the  flat  „%apeau-bras  under  his  arm. 

After  the  few  conventional  words  of  deferential  greet- 
ing, Lord  Grenville  said  to  his  royal  guest, — 

“ Will  your  Highness  permit  me  to  introduce  M. 
Chauvelin,  the  accredited  agent  of  the  French  Govern- 
ment ? ” 

Chauvelin,  immediately  the  Prince  entered,  had 
stepped  forward,  expecting  this  introduction.  He 
bowed  very  low,  whilst  the  Prince  returned  his  salute 
with  a curt  nod  of  the  head. 

“Monsieur,”  said  His  Royal  Highness  coldly,  “we 
will  try  to  forget  the  government  that  sent  you,  and  look 
upon  you  merely  as  our  guest — a private  gentleman  from 
France.  As  such  you  are  welcome,  Monsieur.” 

“Monseigneur,”  rejoined  Chauvelin,  bowing  once 
again.  “ Madame,”  he  added,  bowing  ceremoniously 
before  Marguerite. 

“ Ah  ! my  little  Chauvelin  ! " she  said  with  uncon- 
cerned gaiety,  and  extending  her  tiny  hand  to  him. 
“ Monsieur  and  I are  old  friends,  your  Royal  Highness.” 

“Ah,  then,”  said  the  Prince,  this  time  very  graciously, 
“ you  are  doubly  welcome,  Monsieur.” 

“ There  is  someone  else  I would  crave  permission  to 
present  to  your  Royal  Highness,”  here  interposed  Lord 
Grenville. 

“ Ah ! who  is  it  ? ” asked  the  Prince. 


1 12  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


“ Madame  la  Comtesse  de  Tournay  de  Basserive  and 
her  family,  who  have  but  recently  come  from  France.” 

“ By  all  means  ! — They  are  among  the  lucky  ones 
then  ! ” 

Lord  Grenville  turned  in  search  of  the  Comtesse,  who 
sat  at  the  further  end  of  the  room. 

“ Lud  love  me ! ” whispered  his  Royal  Highness  to 
Marguerite,  as  soon  as  he  had  caught  sight  of  the  rigid 
figure  of  the  old  lady ; “ Lud  love  me  ! she  looks  very 
virtuous  and  very  melancholy.” 

“Faith,  your  Royal  Highness,”  she  rejoined  with  a 
smile,  “ virtue  is  like  precious  odours,  most  fragrant 
when  it  is  crushed.” 

“ Virtue,  alas  ! ” sighed  the  Prince,  “ is  mostly  un^ 
becoming  to  your  charming  sex,  Madame.” 

“Madame  la  Comtesse  de  Tournay  de  Basserive,” 
said  Lord  Grenville,  introducing  the  lady. 

“ This  is  a pleasure,  Madame ; my  royal  father,  as  you 
know,  is  ever  glad  to  welcome  those  of  your  compatriots 
whom  France  has  driven  from  her  shores.” 

“Your  Royal  Highness  is  ever  gracious,”  replied  the 
Comtesse  with  becoming  dignity.  Then,  indicating  her 
daughter,  who  stood  timidly  by  her  side  : “ My  daughter 
Suzanne,  Monseigneur,”  she  said. 

“ Ah  ! charming  ! — charming ! ” said  the  Prince,  “ and 
now  allow  me,  Comtesse,  to  introduce  to  you,  Lady 
Blakeney,  who  honours  us  with  her  friendship.  You  and 
she  will  have  much  to  say  to  one  another,  I vow.  Every 
compatriot  of  Lady  Blakeney’s  is  doubly  welcome  for 
her  sake  . . her  friends  are  our  friends  . . . her 
enemies,  the  enemies  of  England.” 

Marguerite’s  blue  eyes  had  twinkled  with  merriment 
at  this  gracious  speech  from  her  exalted  friend.  The 
Comtesse  de  Tournay,  who  lately  had  so  flagrantly 


LORD  GRENVILLE'S  BALL  113 

insulted  her,  was  here  receiving  a public  lesson,  at 
which  Marguerite  could  not  help  but  rejoice.  But 
the  Comtesse,  for  whom  respect  of  royalty  amounted 
almost  to  a religion,  was  too  well-schooled  in  courtly 
etiquette  to  show  the  slightest  sign  of  embarrassment,  a? 
the  two  ladies  curtsied  ceremoniously  to  one  another. 

“His  Royal  Highness  is  ever  gracious,  Madame,” 
said  Marguerite,  demurely,  and  with  a wealth  of  mischief 
in  her  twinkling  blue  eyes,  “ but  here  there  is  no  need 
for  his  kind  mediation.  . . . Your  amiable  reception  of 
me  at  our  last  meeting  still  dwells  pleasantly  An  my 
memory.” 

“ We  poor  exiles,  Madame,”  rejoined  the  Comtesse, 
frigidly,  “ show  our  gratitude  to  England  by  devotion  to 
the  wishes  of  Monseigneur.” 

“ Madame  1 ” said  Marguerite,  with  another  ceremoni- 
ous curtsey. 

“Madame,”  responded  the  Comtesse  with  equal 
dignity. 

The  Prince  in  the  meanwhile  was  saying  a few  gracious 
words  to  the  young  Vicomte. 

“ I am  happy  to  know  you,  Monsieur  le  Vicomte,”  he 
said.  “ I knew  your  father  well  when  he  was  ambassa- 
dor in  London.” 

“ Ah,  Monseigneur  ! ” replied  the  Vicomte,  “ I was  a 
leetle  boy  then  . . . and  now  I owe  the  honour  of  this 
meeting  to  our  protector,  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel.” 

“ Hush  ! ” said  the  Prince,  earnestly  and  quickly,  as  he 
indicated  Chauvelin,  who  had  stood  a little  on  one  side 
throughout  the  whole  of  this  little  scene,  watching 
Marguerite  and  the  Comtesse  with  an  amused,  sarcastic 
Mtle  smile  around  his  thin  lips. 

“Nay,  Monseigneur,”  he  said  now,  as  if  in  direct 
response  to  the  Prince’s  challenge,  “ pray  do  not  check 


1 14  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

this  gentleman’s  display  of  gratitude ; the  name  of  that 
interesting  red  flower  is  well  known  to  me — and  to 
France.” 

The  Prince  looked  at  him  keenly  for  a moment  or  two. 

“Faith,  then,  Monsieur,”  he  said,  “perhaps  you  know 
more  about  our  national  hero  than  we  do  ourselves  . . . 
perchance  you  know  who  he  is.  . . . See  ! ” he  added, 
turning  to  the  groups  round  the  room,  “the  ladies 
hang  upon  your  lips  . . . you  would  render  yourself 
popular  among  the  fair  sex  if  you  were  to  gratify  their 
curiosity.” 

“Ah,  Monseigneur,”  said  Chauvelin,  significantly, 
“rumour  has  it  in  France  that  your  Highness  could — 
an  you  would — give  the  truest  account  of  that  enig- 
matical wayside  flower.” 

He  looked  quickly  and  keenly  at  Marguerite  as  he 
spoke ; but  she  betrayed  no  emotion,  and  her  eyes  met 
his  quit  fearlessly. 

“ Nay,  man,”  replied  the  Prince,  “my  lips  are  sealed! 
and  the  members  of  the  league  jealously  guard  the 
secret  of  their  chief  ...  so  his  fair  adorers  have  to  be 
content  with  worshipping  a shadow.  Here  in  England, 
Monsieur,”  he  added,  with  wonderful  charm  and  dignity, 
“we  but  name  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel,  and  every  fair 
cheek  is  suffused  with  a blush  of  enthusiasm.  None 
have  seen  him  save  his  faithful  lieutenants.  We  know 
not  if  he  be  tall  or  short,  fair  or  dark,  handsome  or  ill- 
formed  ; but  we  know  that  he  is  the  bravest  gentleman 
in  all  the  world,  and  we  ail  feel  a little  proud,  Monsieur, 
when  we  remember  that  he  is  an  Englishman.” 

“ Ah,  Monsieur  Chauvelin,”  added  Marguerite,  look- 
ing almost  with  defiance  across  at  the  placid,  sphinx-like 
face  of  the  Frenchman,  “His  Royal  Highness  should 
add  that  we  ladies  think  of  him  as  of  a hero  of  old  . « , 


LORD  GRENVILLE’S  BALL  115 

we  worship  him  ...  we  wear  his  badge  ...  we  tremble 
for  him  when  he  is  in  danger,  and  exult  with  him  in  the 
hour  of  his  victory.” 

Chauvelin  did  no  more  than  bow  placidly  both  to  the 
Prince  and  to  Marguerite;  he  felt  that  both  speeches 
were  intended — each  in  their  way — to  convey  contempt 
or  defiance.  The  pleasure-loving,  idle  Prince  he  de- 
spised; the  beautiful  woman,  who  in  her  golden  hair 
wore  a spray  of  small  red  flowers  composed  of  rubies 
and  diamonds — her  he  held  in  the  hollow  of  his  hand  : 
he  could  afford  to  remain  silent  and  to  await  events. 

A long,  jovial,  inane  laugh  broke  the  sudden  silence 
which  had  fallen  over  everyone. 

“ And  we  poor  husbands,”  came  in  slow,  affected 
accents  from  gorgeous  Sir  Percy,  “ we  have  to  stand  by 
. . . while  they  worship  a demmed  shadow.” 

Everyone  laughed — the  Prince  more  loudly  than 
anyone.  The  tension  of  subdued  excitement  was  re- 
lieved, and  the  next  moment  everyone  was  laughing  and 
chatting  merrily  as  the  gay  crowd  broke  up  and  dispersed 
in  the  adjoining  rooms. 


CHAPTER  XII 


THE  SCRAP  OF  PAPER 

Marguerite  suffered  intensely.  Though  she  laughed 
and  chatted,  though  she  was  more  admired,  more 
surrounded,  more  feted  than  any  woman  there,  she  felt 
like  one  condemned  to  death,  living  her  last  day  upon 
this  earth. 

Her  nerves  were  in  a state  of  painful  tension,  which 
had  increased  a hundredfold  during  that  brief  hour 
which  she  had  spent  in  her  husband’s  company,  between 
the  opera  and  the  ball.  The  short  ray  of  hope — that 
she  might  find  in  this  good-natured,  lazy  individual  a 
valuable  friend  and  adviser — had  vanished  as  quickly  as 
it  had  come,  the  moment  she  found  herself  alone  with 
him.  The  same  feeling  of  good-humoured  contempt 
which  one  feels  for  an  animal  or  a faithful  servant,  made 
her  turn  away  with  a smile  from  the  man  who  should 
have  been  her  moral  support  in  this  heart-rending  crisis 
through  which  she  was  passing  : who  should  have  been 
her  cool-headed  adviser,  when  feminine  sympathy  and 
sentiment  tossed  her  hither  and  thither,  between  her  love 
for  her  brother,  who  was  faraway  and  in  mortal  peril,  and 
horror  of  the  awful  service  which  Chauvelin  had  exacted 
from  her,  in  exchange  for  Armand’s  safety. 

There  he  stood,  the  moral  support,  the  cool-headed 
adviser,  surrounded  by  a crowd  of  brainless,  empty- 
headed  young  fops,  who  were  even  now  repeating  from 
mouth  to  mouth,  and  with  erery  sign  of  the  keenest 
u( 


THE  SCRAP  OF  PAPER 


ii  7 

enjoyment,  a doggerel  couplet  which  he  had  just  given 
forth. 

Everywhere  the  absurd,  silly  words  met  her : people 
•eemed  to  have  little  else  to  speak  about,  even  the  Prince 
had  asked  her,  with  a laugh,  whether  she  appreciated  her 
husband's  latest  poetic  efforts. 

u All  done  in  the  tying  of  a cravat,”  Sir  Percy  had 
declared  to  his  clique  of  admirers 

**  We  seek  him  here,  we  seek  him  there, 

Those  Frenchies  seek  him  everywhere. 

Is  he  in  heaven  ? — Is  he  in  hell  ? 

That  demmed,  elusive  Pimpernel  ? ” 

Sir  Percy’s  bon  mot  had  gone  the  round  of  the  brilliant 
reception-rooms.  The  Prince  was  enchanted.  He 
vowed  that  life  without  Blakeney  would  be  but  a dreary 
- desert.  Then,  taking  him  by  the  arm,  had  led  him  to  the 
card-room,  and  engaged  him  in  a long  game  of  hazard. 

Sir  Percy,  whose  chief  interest  in  most  social  gather- 
ings seemed  to  centre  round  the  card-table,  usually 
allowed  his  wife  to  flirt,  dance,  to  amuse  or  bore  herself 
as  much  as  she  liked.  And  to-night,  having  delivered 
himself  of  his  bon  moty  he  had  left  Marguerite  surrounded 
by  a crowd  of  admirers  of  all  ages,  all  anxious  and 
willing  to  help  her  to  forget  that  somewhere  in  the 
spacious  reception-rooms,  there  was  a long,  lazy  being 
who  had  been  fool  enough  to  suppose  that  the  cleverest 
woman  in  Europe  would  settle  down  to  the  prosaic 
bonds  of  English  matrimony. 

Her  still  overwrought  nerves,  her  excitement  and 
agitation,  lent  beautiful  Marguerite  Blakeney  much 
additional  charm : escorted  by  a veritable  bevy  of  men 
of  all  ages  and  of  most  nationalities,  she  called  forth  many 
exclamations  of  admiration  from  everyone  as  she  passed. 

She  would  not  allow  herself  any  more  time  to  think. 


u8  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


Her  early,  somewhat  Bohemian  training  had  made  her 
something  of  a fatalist.  She  felt  that  events  would 
shape  themselves,  that  the  directing  of  them  was  not  in 
her  hands.  From  Chauvelin  she  knew  that  she  could 
expect  no  mercy.  He  had  set  a price  upon  Armand’s 
head,  and  left  it  to  her  to  pay  or  not,  as  she  chose. 

Later  on  in  the  evening  she  caught  sight  of  Sir  Andrew 
Ffoulkes  and  Lord  Antony  Dewhurst,  who  seemingly 
had  just  arrived.  She  noticed  at  once  that  Sir  Andrew 
immediately  made  for  little  Suzanne  de  Tournay,  and 
that  the  two  young  people  soon  managed  to  isolate 
themselves  in  one  of  the  deep  embrasures  of  the 
mullioned  windows,  there  to  carry  on  a long  conversa- 
tion, which  seemed  very  earnest  and  very  pleasant  on 
both  sides. 

Both  the  young  men  looked  a little  haggard  and 
anxious,  but  otherwise  they  were  irreproachably  dressed, 
and  there  was  not  the  slightest  sign,  about  their  courtly 
demeanour,  of  the  terrible  catastrophe,  which  they  must 
have  felt  hovering  round  them  and  round  their  chief. 

That  the  League  of  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel  had  no 
intention  of  abandoning  its  cause,  she  had  gathered 
through  little  Suzanne  herself,  who  spoke  openly  of  the 
assurance  she  and  her  mother  had  had  that  the  Comte 
de  Tournay  would  be  rescued  from  France  by  the 
league,  within  the  next  few  days.  Vaguely  she  began  to 
wonder,  as  she  looked  at  the  brilliant  and  fashionable 
crowd  in  the  gaily-lighted  ball-room,  which  of  these 
worldly  men  round  her  was  the  mysterious  “ Scarlet 
Pimpernel,”  who  held  the  threads  of  such  daring  plots, 
and  the  fate  of  valuable  lives  in  his  hands. 

A burning  curiosity  seized  her  to  know  him  : although 
for  months  she  had  heard  of  him  and  had  accepted  his 
anonymity,  as  everyone  else  in  society  had  done  ; but 


THE  SCRAP  OF  PAPER 


119 


oow  she  longed  to  know — quite  impersonally,  quite 
apart  from  Armand,  and  oh  ! quite  apart  from  Chauvelin 
— only  for  her  own  sake,  for  the  sake  of  the  enthusiastic 
admiration  she  had  always  bestowed  on  his  bravery  and 
cunning. 

He  was  at  the  ball,  of  course,  somewhere,  since  Sir 
Andrew  Ffoulkes  and  Lord  Antony  Dewhurst  were  here, 
evidently  expecting  to  meet  their  chief — and  perhaps  to 
get  a fresh  mot  (Tordre  from  him. 

Marguerite  looked  round  at  everyone,  at  the  aristocratic 
high-typed  Norman  faces,  the  squarely-built,  fair-haired 
Saxon,  the  more  gentle,  humorous  caste  of  the  Celt, 
wondering  which  of  these  betrayed  the  power,  the  energy, 
the  cunning  which  had  imposed  its  will  and  its  leader- 
ship upon  a number  of  high-born  English  gentlemen, 
among  whom  rumour  asserted  was  His  Royal  Highness 
himself. 

Sir  Andrew  Ffoulkes?  Surely  not,  with  his  gentle 
blue  eyes,  which  were  looking  so  tenderly  and  longingly 
after  little  Suzanne,  who  was  being  led  away  from  the 
pleasant  tete-a-tete  by  her  stern  mother.  Marguerite 
watched  him  across  the  room,  as  he  finally  turned  away 
with  a sigh,  and  seemed  to  stand,  aimless  and  lonely, 
now  that  Suzanne’s  dainty  little  figure  had  disappeared 
in  the  crowd. 

She  watched  him  as  he  strolled  towards  the  doorway, 
which  led  to  a small  boudoir  beyond,  then  paused  and 
leaned  against  the  framework  of  it,  looking  still  anxiously 
all  round  him. 

Marguerite  contrived  for  the  moment  to  evade  her 
present  attentive  cavalier,  and  she  skirted  the  fashion- 
able crowd,  drawing  nearer  to  the  doorway,  against 
which  Sir  Andrew  was  leaning.  Why  she  wished  to  get 
closer  to  him,  she  could  not  have  said  : perhaps  she  was 


120  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


impelled  by  an  all-powerful  fatality,  which  so  often  seems 
to  rule  the  destinies  of  men. 

Suddenly  she  stopped:  her  very  heart  seemed  to 
stand  still,  her  eyes,  large  and  excited,  flashed  for  a 
moment  towards  that  doorway,  then  as  quickly  were 
turned  away  again.  Sir  Andrew  Ffoulkes  was  still  in 
the  same  listless  position  by  the  door,  but  Marguerite 
had  distinctly  seen  that  Lord  Hastings — a young  buck, 
a friend  of  her  husband’s  and  one  of  the  Prince’s  set — 
had,  as  he  quickly  brushed  past  him,  slipped  something 
into  his  hand. 

For  one  moment  longer — oh  ! it  was  the  merest  flash 
—Marguerite  paused : the  next  she  had,  with  admirably 
played  unconcern,  resumed  her  walk  across  the  room — 
but  this  time  more  quickly  towards  that  doorway  whence 
Sir  Andrew  had  now  disappeared. 

All  this,  from  the  moment  that  Marguerite  had  caught 
sight  of  Sir  Andrew  leaning  against  the  doorway,  until 
she  followed  him  into  the  little  boudoir  beyond,  had 
occurred  in  less  than  a minute.  Fate  is  usually  swift 
when  she  deals  a blow. 

Now  Lady  Blakeney  had  suddenly  ceased  to  exist.  It 
was  Marguerite  St  Just  who  was  there  only  : Marguerite 
St  Just  who  had  passed  her  childhood,  her  early  youth, 
in  the  protecting  arms  of  her  brother  Armand.  She  had 
forgotten  everything  else — her  rank,  her  dignity,  her  secret 
enthusiasms — everything  save  that  Armand  stood  in  peril 
of  his  life,  and  that  there,  not  twenty  feet  away  from  her, 
in  the  small  boudoir  which  was  quite  deserted,  in  the 
very  hands  of  Sir  Andrew  Ffoulkes,  might  be  the  talisman 
which  would  save  her  brother’s  life. 

Barely  another  thirty  seconds  had  elapsed  between 
the  moment  when  Lord  Hastings  slipped  the  mysterious 
“something ” into  Sir  Andrew’s  hand,  and  the  one  when 


THE  SCRAP  OF  PAPER 


121 


she,  in  her  turn,  reached  the  deserted  boudoir.  Sir 
Andrew  was  standing  with  his  back  to  her  and  close  to 
a table  upon  which  stood  a massive  silver  candelabra. 
A slip  of  paper  was  in  his  hand,  and  he  was  in  the  very 
act  of  perusing  its  contents. 

Unperceived,  her  soft  clinging  robe  making  not  the 
slightest  sound  upon  the  heavy  carpet,  not  daring  to 
breathe  until  she  had  accomplished  her  purpose,  Mar- 
guerite slipped  close  behind  him.  ...  At  that  moment 
he  looked  round  and  saw  her;  she  uttered  a groan, 
passed  her  hand  across  her  forehead,  and  murmured 
faintly, — 

“ The  heat  in  the  room  was  terrible  ...  I felt  so 
faint.  . . . Ah!  . . ." 

She  tottered  almost  as  if  she  would  fall,  and  Sir 
Andrew,  quickly  recovering  himself,  and  crumpling  in 
his  hand  the  tiny  note  he  had  been  reading,  was  only, 
apparently,  just  in  time  to  support  her. 

“ You  are  ill,  Lady  Blakeney  ? ” he  asked  with  much 
concern.  “ Let  me  . . 

“No,  no,  nothing — ” she  interrupted  quickly.  “A 
chair — quick.” 

She  sank  into  a chair  close  to  the  table,  and  throwing 
back  her  head,  closed  her  eyes. 

“ There  ! ” she  murmured,  still  faintly ; “ the  giddiness 
is  passing  off.  . . . Do  not  heed  me,  Sir  Andrew;  I 
assure  you  I already  feel  better.” 

At  moments  like  these  there  is  no  doubt — and  psycho- 
logists actually  assert  it — that  there  is  in  us  a sense 
which  has  absolutely  nothing  to  do  with  the  other  five : 
it  is  not  that  we  see,  it  is  not  that  we  hear  or  touch,  yet 
we  seem  to  do  all  three  at  once.  Marguerite  sat  there 
with  her  eyes  apparently  closed.  Sir  Andrew  was 
immediately  behind  her,  and  on  her  right  was  the  table 


122  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


with  the  five-armed  candelabra  upon  it.  Before  her 
mental  vision  there  was  absolutely  nothing  but  Armand’s 
face.  Armand,  whose  life  was  in  the  most  imminent 
danger,  and  who  seemed  to  be  looking  at  her  from  a 
background  upon  which  were  dimly  painted  the  seething 
crowd  of  Paris,  the  bare  walls  of  the  Tribunal  of  Public 
Safety,  with  Foucquier-Tinville,  the  Public  Prosecutor, 
demanding  Armand’s  life  in  the  name  of  the  people  of 
France,  and  the  lurid  guillotine  with  its  stained  knife 
waiting  for  another  victim  . . . Armand ! . . . 

For  one  moment  there  was  dead  silence  in  the  little 
boudoir.  Beyond,  from  the  brilliant  ball-room,  the 
sweet  notes  of  the  gavotte,  the  frou-frou  of  rich 
dresses,  the  talk  and  laughter  of  a large  and  merry 
crowd,  came  as  a strange,  weird  accompaniment  to  the 
drama  which  was  being  enacted  here. 

Sir  Andrew  had  not  uttered  another  word.  Then  it 
was  that  that  extra  sense  became  potent  in  Marguerite 
Blakeney.  She  could  not  see,  for  her  eyes  were  closed ; 
she  could  not  hear,  for  the  noise  from  the  ball-room 
drowned  the  soft  rustle  of  that  momentous  scrap  of 
paper;  nevertheless  she  knew — as  if  she  had  both  seen 
and  heard — that  Sir  Andrew  was  even  now  holding  the 
paper  to  the  flame  of  one  of  the  candles. 

At  the  exact  moment  that  it  began  to  catch  fire,  she 
opened  her  eyes,  raised  her  hand  and,  with  two  dainty 
fingers,  had  taken  the  burning  scrap  of  paper  from  the 
young  man’s  hand.  Then  she  blew  out  the  flame,  and 
held  the  paper  to  her  nostril  with  perfect  unconcern. 

“ How  thoughtful  of  you,  Sir  Andrew,”  she  said  gaily, 
“surely  ’twas  your  grandmother  who  taught  you  that  the 
smell  of  burnt  paper  was  a sovereign  remedy  against 
giddiness.” 

She  sighed  with  satisfaction,  holding  the  paper  tightly 


THE  SCRAP  OF  PAPER 


between  her  jewelled  fingers ; that  talisman  which 
perhaps  would  save  her  brother  Armand’s  life.  Sir 
Andrew  was  staring  at  her,  too  dazed  for  the  moment 
to  realize  what  had  actually  happened ; he  had  been 
taken  so  completely  by  surprise,  that  he  seemed  quite 
unable  to  grasp  the  fact  that  the  slip  of  paper,  which  she 
held  in  her  dainty  hand,  was  one  perhaps  on  which  the 
life  of  his  comrade  might  depend. 

Marguerite  burst  into  a long,  merry  peal  of  laughter. 

“Why  do  you  stare  at  me  like  that?”  she  said  play- 
fully. “I  assure  you  I feel  much  better;  your  remedy 
has  proved  most  effectual.  This  room  is  most  delight- 
fully cool,”  she  added,  with  the  same  perfect  composure, 
“and  the  sound  of  the  gavotte  from  the  ball-room  is 
fascinating  and  soothing.” 

She  was  prattling  on  in  the  most  unconcerned  and 
pleasant  way,  whilst  Sir  Andrew,  in  an  agony  of  mind, 
was  racking  his  brains  as  to  the  quickest  method  he 
could  employ,  to  get  that  bit  of  paper  out  of  that 
beautiful  woman's  hand.  Instinctively,  vague  and 
tumultuous  thoughts  rushed  through  his  mind:  he 
suddenly  remembered  her  nationality,  and  worst  of  all, 
recollected  that  horrible  tale  anent  the  Marquis  de  St 
Cyr,  which  in  England  no  one  had  credited,  for  the  sake 
of  Sir  Percy,  as  well  as  for  her  own. 

“What?  Still  dreaming  and  staring?”  she  said,  with 
a merry  laugh,  “ you  are  most  ungallant,  Sir  Andrew ; 
and  now  I come  to  think  of  it,  you  seemed  more  startled 
than  pl*8t$S(S  when  you  saw  me  just  now.  I do  believe, 
after  all,  that  it  was  not  concern  for  my  health,  nor  yet 
a remedy  taught  you  by  your  grandmother  that  caused 
you  to  burn  this  tiny  scrap  of  paper.  ...  I vow  it  must 
have  been  your  lady  love’s  last  cruel  epistle  you  were 
trying  to  destroy.  Now  confess  1 ” she  added,  playfully 


124 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


holding  up  the  scrap  of  paper,  “ does  this  contain  hei 
final  conge,  or  a last  appeal  to  kiss  and  make  friends  ? n 
“ Whichever  it  is,  Lady  Blakeney,”  said  Sir  Andrew, 
who  was  gradually  recovering  his  self-possession,  “ this 
little  note  is  undoubtedly  mine,  and  . . ." 

Not  caring  whether  his  action  was  one  that  would  be 
styled  ill-bred  towards  a lady,  the  young  man  had  made 
a bold  dash  for  the  note ; but  Marguerite's  thoughts  flew 
quicker  than  his  own  \ her  actions,  under  pressure  of  this 
intense  excitement,  were  swifter  and  more  sure.  She 
was  tall  and  strong ; she  took  a quick  step  backwards 
and  knocked  over  the  small  Sheraton  table  which  was 
already  top-heavy,  and  which  fell  down  with  a crash, 
together  with  the  massive  candelabra  upon  it 
She  gave  a quick  cry  of  alarm  : 

“ The  candles,  Sir  Andrew — quick  ! M 
There  was  not  much  damage  done  ; one  or  two  of  the 
candles  had  blown  out  as  the  candelabra  fell ; others  had 
merely  sent  some  grease  upon  the  valuable  carpet ; one 
had  ignited  the  paper  shade  over  it.  Sir  Andrew  quickly 
and  dexterously  put  out  the  flames  and  replaced  the 
candelabra  upon  the  table ; but  this  had  taken  him  a 
few  seconds  to  do,  and  those  seconds  had  been  all  that 
Marguerite  needed  to  cast  a quick  glance  at  the  paper, 
and  to  note  its  contents — a dozen  words  in  the  same 
distorted  handwriting  she  had  seen  before,  and  bearing 
the  same  device — a star-shaped  flower  drawn  in  red  ink. 

When  Sir  Andrew  once  more  looked  at  her,  he  only 
saw  on  her  face  alarm  at  the  untoward  accident  and 
relief  at  its  happy  issue ; whilst  the  tiny  and  momentous 
note  had  apparently  fluttered  to  the  ground.  Eagerly 
the  young  man  picked  it  up,  and  his  face  looked  much 
relieved,  as  his  fingers  closed  tightly  over  it. 

“ For  shame,  Sir  Andrew,”  she  said,  shaking  her  head 


THE  SCRAP  OF  PAPER  12$ 

with  a playful  sigh,  “ making  havoc  in  the  heart  of  some 
impressionable  duchess,  whilst  conquering  the  affections 
of  my  sweet  little  Suzanne.  Well,  well ! I do  believe  it 
was  Cupid  himself  who  stood  by  you,  and  threatened 
the  entire  Foreign  Office  with  destruction  by  fire,  just 
on  purpose  to  make  me  drop  love’s  message,  before 
it  had  been  polluted  by  my  indiscreet  eyes.  To  think 
that,  a moment  longer,  and  I might  have  known  the 
secrets  of  an  erring  duchess.” 

“You  will  forgive  me,  Lady  Blakeney,”  said  Sir 
Andrew,  now  as  calm  as  she  was  herself,  “if  I resume 
the  interesting  occupation  which  you  had  interrupted?” 

“By  all  means,  Sir  Andrew  ! How  should  I venture 
to  thwart  the  love-god  again  ? Perhaps  he  would  mete 
out  some  terrible  chastisement  against  my  presumption. 
Burn  your  love-token,  by  all  means  ! ” 

Sir  Andrew  had  already  twisted  the  paper  into  a long 
spill,  and  was  once  again  holding  it  to  the  flame  of  the 
candle,  which  had  remained  alight.  He  did  not  notice 
the  strange  smile  on  the  face  of  his  fair  vis-d-vts,  so 
intent  was  he  on  the  work  of  destruction;  perhaps, 
had  he  done  so,  the  look  of  relief  would  have  faded 
from  his  face.  He  watched  the  fateful  note,  as  it  curled 
under  the  flame.  Soon  the  last  fragment  fell  on  the 
floor,  and  he  placed  his  heel  upon  the  ashes. 

“And  now,  Sir  Andrew,”  said  Marguerite  Blakeney, 
with  the  pretty  nonchalance  peculiar  to  herself,  and 
with  the  most  winning  of  smiles,  “will  you  venture 
to  excite  the  jealousy  of  your  fair  lady  by  asking 
me  to  dance  the  minuet?” 


CHAPTER  XIII 

EITHER — OR  ? 

The  few  words  which  Marguerite  Blakeney  had  managed 
to  read  on  the  half-scorched  piece  of  paper,  seemed 
literally  to  be  the  words  of  Fate.  “Start  myself  to- 
morrow. . . .”  This  she  had  read  quite  distinctly ; 
then  came  a blur  caused  by  the  smoke  of  the  candle, 
which  obliterated  the  next  few  words;  but,  right  at 
the  bottom,  there  was  another  sentence,  which  was  now 
standing  clearly  and  distinctly,  like  letters  of  fire,  before 
her  mental  vision.  “If  you  wish  to  speak  to  me  again, 
I shall  be  in  the  supper-room  at  one  o’clock  precisely.’* 
The  whole  was  signed  with  the  hastily-scrawled  little 
device — a tiny  star-shaped  flower,  which  had  become 
so  familiar  to  her. 

One  o’clock  precisely ! It  was  now  close  upon  eleven, 
the  last  minuet  was  being  danced,  with  Sir  Andrew 
Ffoulkes  and  beautiful  Lady  Blakeney  leading  the 
couples,  through  its  delicate  and  intricate  figures. 

Close  upon  eleven ! the  hands  of  the  handsome 
Louis  XV.  clock  upon  its  ormolu  bracket  seemed  to 
move  along  with  maddening  rapidity.  Two  hours  more, 
and  her  fate  and  that  of  Armand  would  be  sealed. 
In  two  hours  she  must  make  up  her  mind  whether 
she  will  keep  the  knowledge  so  cunningly  gained  to 
herself,  and  leave  her  brother  to  his  fate,  or  whether  she 
will  wilfully  betray  a brave  man,  whose  life  was  devoted 
to  his  fellow-men,  who  was  noble,  generous,  and  above 
all,  unsuspecting.  It  seemed  a horrible  thing  to  do. 
But  then,  there  was  Armand ! Armand,  too,  was  noble 
126 


EITHER — OR? 


127 


and  brave,  Armand,  too,  was  unsuspecting.  And  Armand 
loved  her,  would  have  willingly  trusted  his  life  in  her 
hands,  and  now,  when  she  could  save  him  from  death, 
she  hesitated.  Oh ! it  was  monstrous ; her  brother’s 
kind,  gentle  face,  so  full  of  love  for  her,  seemed  to  be 
looking  reproachfully  at  her.  “You  might  have  saved 
me,  Margot ! ” he  seemed  to  say  to  her,  “ and  you  chose 
the  life  of  a stranger,  a man  you  do  not  know,  whom  you 
have  never  seen,  and  preferred  that  he  should  be  safe, 
whilst  you  sent  me  to  the  guillotine  ! ” 

All  these  conflicting  thoughts  raged  through  Mar- 
guerite’s brain,  while,  with  a smile  upon  her  lips,  she 
glided  through  the  graceful  mazes  of  the  minuet.  She 
noted — with  that  acute  sense  of  hers — that  she  had 
succeeded  in  completely  allaying  Sir  Andrew’s  fears. 
Her  self-control  had  been  absolutely  perfect — she  was 
a finer  actress  at  this  moment,  and  throughout  the 
whole  of  this  minuet,  than  she  had  ever  been  upon 
the  boards  of  the  Com^die  Frangaise;  but  then,  a 
beloved  brother’s  life  had  not  depended  upon  her 
histrionic  powers. 

She  was  too  clever  to  overdo  her  part,  and  made  no 
further  allusions  to  the  supposed  billet  doux , which  had 
caused  Sir  Andrew  Ffoulkes  such  an  agonising  five 
minutes.  She  watched  his  anxiety  melting  away  under 
her  sunny  smile,  and  soon  perceived  that,  whatever 
doubt  may  have  crossed  his  mind  at  the  moment,  she 
had,  by  the  time  the  last  bars  of  the  minuet  had  been 
played,  succeeded  in  completely  dispelling  it ; he  never 
realised  in  what  a fever  of  excitement  she  was,  what 
effort  it  cost  her  to  keep  up  a constant  ripple  of  banal 
conversation. 

When  the  minuet  was  over,  she  asked  Sir  Andrew 
to  take  her  into  the  next  room. 


* 2 3 THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


“ 1 have  promised  to  go  down  to  supper  with  His 
Royal  Highness,”  she  said,  “but  before  we  pait,  tell 
me  ...  am  I forgiven?” 

“Forgiven?” 

“Yes!  Confess,  I gave  you  a fright  just  now.  . . . 
But,  remember,  I am  not  an  Englishwoman,  and  I 
do  not  look  upon  the  exchanging  of  billet  doux  as  a 
crime,  and  I vow  I’ll  not  tell  my  little  Suzanne.  But 
now,  tell  me,  shall  I welcome  you  at  my  water-party  on 
Wednesday?” 

“I  am  not  sure,  Lady  Blakeney,”he  replied  evasively. 
“I  may  have  to  leave  London  to-morrow.” 

“I  would  not  do  that,  if  I were  you,”  she  said 
earnestly;  then  seeing  the  anxious  look  once  more 
reappearing  in  his  eyes,  she  added  gaily;  “No  one 
can  throw  a ball  better  than  you  can,  Sir  Andrew, 
we  should  so  miss  you  on  the  bowling-green.” 

He  had  led  her  across  the  room,  to  one  beyond,  where 
already  His  Royal  Highness  was  waiting  for  the  beautiful 
Lady  Blakeney. 

“ Madame,  supper  awaits  us,”  said  the  Prince,  offering 
his  arm  to  Marguerite,  “and  I am  full  of  hope.  The 
goddess  Fortune  has  frowned  so  persistently  on  me  at 
hazard,  that  I look  with  confidence  for  the  smiles  of  the 
goddess  of  Beauty.” 

“Your  Highness  has  been  unfortunate  at  the  card 
tables?”  asked  Marguerite,  as  she  took  the  Prince’3 
arm. 

“ Aye ! most  unfortunate.  Blakeney,  not  content 
with  being  the  richest  among  my  father’s  subjects, 
has  also  the  most  outrageous  luck.  By  the  way,  where 
is  that  inimitable  wit?  I vow,  Madam,  that  this  life 
would  be  but  a dreary  desert  without  your  smiles  and 
his  sallies.” 


4 


CHAPTER  XIV 
OWE  o'clock  PRECISELY  I 

Supper  had  been  extremely  gay.  All  those  present 
declared,  that  never  had  Lady  Blakeney  been  more 
adorable,  nor  that  “ demmed  idiot  ” Sir  Percy  more 
amusing. 

His  Royal  Highness  had  laughed  until  the  tears 
streamed  down  his  cheeks  at  Blakeney’s  foolish  yet 
funny  repartees.  His  doggerel  verse,  “ We  seek  him 
here,  we  seek  him  there,”  etc.,  was  sung  to  the  tune  of 
“Ho!  Merry  Britons!”  and  to  the  accompaniment  of 
glasses  knocked  loudly  against  the  table.  Lord  Gren- 
ville, moreover,  had  a most  perfect  cook — some  wags 
asserted  that  he  was  a scion  of  the  old  French  noblessel 
who,  having  lost  his  fortune,  had  come  to  seek  it  in  the 
cuisine  of  the  Foreign  Office. 

Marguerite  Blakeney  was  in  her  most  brilliant  mood, 
and  surely  not  a soul  in  that  crowded  supper-room  had 
even  an  inkling  of  the  terrible  struggle  which  was  raging 
within  her  heart. 

The  clock  was  ticking  so  mercilessly  on.  It  was  long 
past  midnight,  and  even  the  Prince  of  Wales  was  think- 
ing of  leaving  the  supper-table.  Within  the  next  half- 
hour  the  destinies  of  two  brave  men  would  be  pitted 
against  one  another — the  dearly-beloved  brother  and  he, 
the  unknown  hero. 

Marguerite  had  not  even  tried  to  see  Chauvelin  during 
this  last  hour;  she  knew  that  his  keen,  fox-like  eyes 

I 1*9 


130  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

would  terrify  her  at  once,  and  incline  the  balance  of  her 
decision  towards  Armand.  Whilst  she  did  not  see  him, 
there  still  lingered  in  her  heart  of  hearts  a vague,  un- 
defined hope  that  “ something  ” would  occur,  something 
big,  enormous,  epoch-making,  which  would  shift  from 
her  young,  weak  shoulders  this  terrible  burden  of  re- 
sponsibility, of  having  to  choose  between  two  such  cruel 
alternatives. 

But  the  minutes  ticked  on  with  that  dull  monotony 
which  they  invariably  seem  to  assume  when  our  very 
nerves  ache  with  their  incessant  ticking. 

After  supper,  dancing  was  resumed.  His  Royal  High- 
ness had  left,  and  there  was  general  talk  of  departing 
among  the  older  guests ; the  young  ones  were  indefatig- 
able and  had  started  on  a new  gavotte,  which  would  fill 
the  next  quarter  of  an  hour. 

Marguerite  did  not  feel  equal  to  another  dance ; there 
is  a limit  to  the  most  enduring  self-control.  Escorted 
by  a Cabinet  Minister,  she  had  once  more  found  her 
way  to  the  tiny  boudoir,  still  the  most  deserted  among 
all  the  rooms.  She  knew  that  Chauvelin  must  be  lying 
in  wait  for  her  somewhere,  ready  to  seize  the  first  possible 
opportunity  for  a tetc-ci-tcU.  His  eyes  had  met  hers  for 
a moment  after  the  'fore-supper  minuet,  and  she  knew 
that  the  keen  diplomatist,  with  those  searching  pale  eye* 
of  his,  had  divined  that  her  work  was  accomplished. 

Fate  had  willed  it  so.  Marguerite,  torn  by  the  most 
terrible  conflict  heart  of  woman  can  ever  know,  had  re- 
signed herself  to  its  decrees.  But  Armand  must  be 
saved  at  any  cost ; he,  first  of  all,  for  he  was  her  brother, 
had  been  mother,  father,  friend  to  her  ever  since  she,  a 
tiny  babe,  had  lost  both  her  parents.  To  think  of 
Armand  dying  a traitor’s  death  on  the  guillotine  was 
too  horrible  even  to  dwell  upon — impossible,  in  fact 


ONE  O’CLOCK  PRECISELY  I 131 

That  could  never  be,  never.  ...  As  for  the  stranger, 
the  hero  . . . well ! there,  let  Fate  decide.  Marguerite 
would  redeem  her  brother’s  life  at  the  hands  of  the 
relentless  enemy,  then  let  that  cunning  Scarlet  Pimper- 
nel extricate  himself  after  that. 

Perhaps — vaguely — Marguerite  hoped  that  the  daring 
plotter,  who  for  so  many  months  had  baffled  an  army  of 
spies,  would  still  manage  to  evade  Chauvelin  and  remain 
immune  to  the  end. 

She  thought  of  all  this,  as  she  sat  listening  to  the  witty 
discourse  of  the  Cabinet  Minister,  who,  no  doubt,  felt 
that  he  had  found  in  Lady  Blakeney  a most  perfect 
listener.  Suddenly  she  saw  the  keen,  fox-like  face  of 
Chauvelin  peeping  through  the  curtained  doorway. 

“ Lord  Fancourt,”  she  said  to  the  Minister,  “ will  you 
do  me  a service  ? ” 

“ I am  entirely  at  your  ladyship’s  service,”  he  replied 
gallantly. 

“ Will  you  see  if  my  husband  is  still  in  the  card-room  ? 
And  if  he  is,  will  you  tell  him  that  I am  very  tired,  and 
would  be  glad  to  go  home  soon.” 

The  commands  of  a beautiful  woman  are  binding  on 
all  mankind,  even  on  Cabinet  Ministers.  Lord  Fancourt 
prepared  to  obey  instantly. 

“ I do  not  like  to  lea/e  your  ladyship  alone,”  he  said. 

“ Never  fear.  I shall  be  quite  safe  here — and,  I think, 
undisturbed  . . . but  I am  really  tired.  You  know  Sir 
Percy  will  drive  back  to  Richmond.  It  is  a long  way, 
and  we  shall  not — an  we  do  not  hurry — get  home  before 
daybreak.” 

Lord  Fancourt  had  perforce  to  go. 

The  moment  he  had  disappeared,  Chauvelin  slipped 
into  the  room,  and  the  next  instant  stood  calm  and  im- 
passive by  her  side. 


13 2 THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

**  You  have  news  for  me  ? ” he  said. 

An  icy  mantle  seemed  to  have  suddenly  settled  round 
Marguerite’s  shoulders ; though  her  cheeks  glowed  with 
fire,  she  felt  chilled  and  numbed.  Oh,  Armand ! will 
you  ever  know  the  terrible  sacrifice  of  pride,  of  dignity, 
of  womanliness  a devoted  sister  is  making  for  your  sake  ? 

“ Nothing  of  importance,”  she  said,  staring  mechanic* 
ally  before  her,  “ but  it  might  prove  a clue.  I contrived 
—no  matter  how — to  detect  Sir  Andrew  Ffoulkes  in  the 
very  act  of  burning  a paper  at  one  of  these  candles,  in 
this  very  room.  That  paper  I succeeded  in  holding 
between  my  fingers  for  the  space  of  two  minutes,  and  to 
cast  my  eye  on  it  for  that  of  ten  seconds.” 

“ Time  enough  to  learn  its  contents  ? ” asked  Chauvelin, 
quietly. 

She  nodded.  Then  she  continued  in  the  same  even, 
mechanical  tone  of  voice — 

“ In  the  corner  of  the  paper  there  was  the  usual  rough 
device  of  a small  star-shaped  flower.  Above  it  I read 
two  lines,  everything  else  was  scorched  and  blackened 
by  the  flame.” 

“ And  what  were  these  two  lines  ? ” 

Her  throat  seemed  suddenly  to  have  contracted.  For 
an  instant  she  felt  that  she  could  not  speak  the  words, 
which  might  send  a brave  man  .o  his  death. 

“ It  is  lucky  that  the  whole  paper  was  not  burned,” 
added  Chauvelin,  with  dry  sarcasm,  “for  it  might  have 
fared  ill  with  Armand  St  Just.  What  were  the  two  lines, 
citoyenne  ? ” 

“One  was,  *1  start  myself  to-morrow,’”  she  said 
quietly ; “ the  other — ‘ If  you  wish  to  speak  to  me,  I 
shall  be  in  the  supper-room  at  one  o’clock  precisely.’  ” 

Chauvelin  looked  up  at  the  clock  just  above  the 
mantelpiece. 


ONE  O’CLOCK  PRECISELY!  133 

14  Then  I have  plenty  of  time,”  he  said  placidly. 

“ What  are  you  going  to  do  ? ” she  asked. 

She  was  pale  as  a statue,  her  hands  were  icy  cold,  her 
head  and  heart  throbbed  with  the  awful  strain  upon  her 
nerves.  Oh,  this  was  cruel ! cruel ! What  had  she  done 
to  have  deserved  all  this  ? Her  choice  was  made : had 
she  done  a vile  action  or  one  that  was  sublime?  The 
recording  angel,  who  writes  in  the  book  of  gold,  alone 
could  give  an  answer. 

“What  are  you  going  to  do  ?”  she  repeated  mechanic- 
ally. 

“Oh,  nothing  for  the  present.  After  that  it  will 
depend.” 

“On  what  ?” 

“ On  whom  I snail  see  in  the  supper-room  at  one 
o’clock  precisely.” 

“ You  will  see  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel,  of  course.  But 
you  do  not  know  him.” 

“ No.  But  I shall  presently.” 

“Sir  Andrew  will  have  warned  him.” 

**  I think  not.  When  you  parted  from  him  after  the 
minuet  he  stood  and  watched  you,  for  a moment  or  two, 
with  a look  which  gave  me  to  understand  that  something 
had  happened  between  you.  It  was  only  natural,  was  it 
not  ? that  I should  make  a shrewd  guess  as  to  the  nature 
of  that  * something.’  I thereupon  engaged  the  young 
gallant  in  a long  and  animated  conversation — we  dis- 
cussed Herr  Gluck’s  singular  success  in  London— until 
a lady  claimed  his  arm  for  supper.” 

“ Since  then  ? ” 

“ I did  not  lose  sight  of  him  through  supper.  When 
we  all  came  upstairs  again,  Lady  Portarles  buttonholed 
him  and  started  on  the  subject  of  pretty  Mdlle.  Suzanne 
de  Tournay.  I knew  he  would  not  move  until  Lady 


134  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

Portarles  had  exhausted  the  subject,  which  will  not  be 
for  another  quarter  of  an  hour  at  least,  and  it  is  five 
minutes  to  one  now.” 

He  was  preparing  to  go,  and  went  up  to  the  door- 
way, where,  drawing  aside  the  curtain,  he  stood  for  a 
moment  pointing  out  to  Marguerite  the  distant  figure  of 
Sir  Andrew  Ffoulkes  in  close  conversation  with  Lady 
Portarles. 

“ I think,”  he  said,  with  a triumphant  smile,  “that  I 
may  safely  expect  to  find  the  person  I seek  in  the 
dining-room,  fair  lady.” 

“ There  may  be  more  than  one." 

“Whoever  is  there,  as  the  clock  strikes  one,  will  be 
shadowed  by  one  of  my  men ; of  these,  one,  or  perhaps 
two,  or  even  three,  will  leave  for  France  to-morrow. 
One  of  these  will  be  the  ‘ Scarlet  Pimpernel.*  ** 

“Yes  ?— Arid?" 

“I  also,  fair  lady,  will  leave  for  France  to-morrow. 
The  papers  found  at  Dover  upon  the  person  of  Sir 
Andrew  Ffoulkes,  speak  of  the  neighbourhood  of  Calais, 
of  an  inn  which  I know  well,  called  ‘ Le  Chat  Gris,’  of  a 
lonely  place  somewhere  on  the  coast — the  Pere  Blan- 
chard’s hut — which  I must  endeavour  to  find.  All 
these  places  are  given  as  the  point,  where  this  meddle- 
some Englishman  has  bidden  the  traitor  de  Tournay 
and  others  to  meet  his  emissaries.  But  it  seems  that  he 
has  decided  not  to  send  his  emissaries,  that  ‘he  will 
start  himself  to-morrow.*  Now,  one  of  those  persons 
whom  I shall  see  anon  in  the  supper-room,  will  be 
journeying  to  Calais,  and  I shall  follow  that  person,  until 
I have  tracked  him  to  where  those  fugitive  aristocrats 
await  him ; for  that  person,  fair  lady,  will  be  the  man 
whom  I have  sought  for,  for  nearly  a year,  the  man 
whose  energy  has  outdone  me,  whose  ingenuity  has 


ONE  O’CLOCK  PRECISELY!  135 

baffled  me,  whose  audacity  has  set  me  wondering — yes ! 
me  ! — who  have  seen  a trick  or  two  in  my  time— the 
mysterious  and  elusive  Scarlet  Pimpernel.” 

“ And  Armand  ? ” she  pleaded. 

“ Have  I ever  broken  my  word  ? I promise  you  that 
the  day  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel  and  I start  for  France,  I 
will  send  you  that  imprudent  letter  of  his  by  special 
courier.  More  than  that,  I will  pledge  you  the  word  of 
France,  that  the  day  I lay  hands  on  that  meddlesome 
Englishman,  St  Just  will  be  here  in  England,  safe  ia 
the  arms  of  his  charming  sister.” 

And  with  a deep  and  elaborate  bow  and  another  look 
at  the  clock,  Chauvelin  glided  out  of  the  room. 

It  seemed  to  Marguerite  that  through  all  the  noise, 
all  the  din  of  music,  dancing,  and  laughter,  she  could 
hear  his  cat-like  tread,  gliding  through  the  vast  reception- 
rooms  ; that  she  could  hear  him  go  down  the  massive 
staircase,  reach  the  dining-room  and  open  the  door. 
Fate  had  decided,  had  made  her  speak,  had  made  her 
do  a vile  and  abominable  thing,  for  the  sake  of  the 
brother  she  loved.  She  lay  back  in  her  chair,  passive 
and  still,  seeing  the  figure  of  her  relentless  enemy  ever 
present  before  her  aching  eyes. 

When  Chauvelin  reached  the  supper-room  it  was 
quite  deserted.  It  had  that  woebegone,  forsaken, 
tawdry  appearance,  which  reminds  one  so  much  of  a 
ball-dress,  the  morning  after. 

Half- empty  glasses  littered  the  table,  unfolded 
napkins  lay  about,  the  chairs  — turned  towards  one 
another  in  groups  of  twos  and  threes — seemed  like  the 
seats  of  ghosts,  in  close  conversation  with  one  another. 
There  were  sets  of  two  chairs  — very  close  to  one 
another — in  the  far  corners  of  the  room,  which  spoke  of 
recent  whispered  flirtations,  over  cold  game-pie  and 


1 36  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

cnampagne;  there  were  sets  of  three  and  four  chairs, 
that  recalled  pleasant,  animated  discussions  over  the 
latest  scandals ; there  were  chairs  straight  up  in  a row 
that  still  looked  starchy,  critical,  acid,  like  antiquated 
dowagers ; there  were  a few  isolated,  single  chairs,  close 
to  the  table,  that  spoke  of  gourmands  intent  on  the  most 
rtchtrckt  dishes,  and  others  overturned  on  the  floor,  that 
spoke  volumes  on  the  subject  of  my  Lord  Grenville’s 
cellars. 

It  was  a ghostlike  replica,  in  fact,  of  that  fashionable 
gathering  upstairs;  a ghost  that  haunts  every  house, 
where  balls  and  good  suppers  are  given;  a picture 
drawn  with  white  chalk  on  grey  cardboard,  dull  and 
colourless,  now  that  the  bright  silk  dresses  and  gor- 
geously embroidered  coats  were  no  longer  there  to  fill 
in  the  foreground,  and  now  that  the  candles  flickered 
sleepily  in  their  sockets. 

Chauvelin  smiled  benignly,  and  rubbing  his  long,  thin 
hands  together,  he  looked  round  the  deserted  supper- 
room,  whence  even  the  last  flunkey  had  retired  in  order 
to  join  his  friends  in  the  hall  below.  All  was  silence  in 
the  dimly-lighted  room,  whilst  the  sound  of  the  gavotte, 
the  hum  of  distant  talk  and  laughter,  and  the  rumble  of 
an  occasional  coach  outside,  only  seemed  to  reach  this 
palace  of  the  Sleeping  Beauty  as  the  murmur  of  some 
flitting  spooks  far  away. 

It  all  looked  so  peaceful,  so  luxurious,  and  so  still,  that 
the  keenest  observer — a veritable  prophet — could  never 
have  guessed  that,  at  this  present  moment,  that  deserted 
supper-room  was  nothing  but  a trap  laid  for  the  capture 
of  the  most  cunning  and  audacious  plotter,  those  stirring 
times  had  ever  seen. 

Chauvelin  pondered  and  tried  to  peer  into  the  im- 
mediate future.  What  would  this  man  be  like,  whom  he 


ONE  O’CLOCK  PRECISELY!  137 

and  the  leaders  of  a whole  revolution  had  sworn  to  bring 
to  his  death?  Everything  about  him  was  weird  and 
mysterious  ; his  personality,  which  he  had  so  cunningly 
concealed,  the  power  he  wielded  over  nineteen  English 
gentlemen  who  seemed  to  obey  his  every  command 
blindly  and  enthusiastically,  the  passionate  love  and 
submission  he  had  roused  in  his  little  trained  band,  and, 
above  all,  his  marvellous  audacity,  the  boundless  im- 
pudence which  had  caused  him  to  beard  his  most 
implacable  enemies,  within  the  very  walls  of  Paris. 

No  wonder  that  in  France  the  sobriquet  of  the 
mysterious  Englishman  roused  in  the  people  a super- 
stitious shudder.  Chauvelin  himself  as  he  gazed  round 
the  deserted  room,  where  presently  the  weird  hero 
would  appear,  felt  a strange  feeling  of  awe  creeping  all 
down  his  spine. 

But  his  plans  were  well  laid.  He  felt  sure  that  the 
Scarlet  Pimpernel  had  not  been  warned,  and  felt  equally 
sure  that  Marguerite  Blakeney  had  not  played  him  false. 
If  she  had  ...  a cruel  look,  that  would  have  made  her 
shudder,  gleamed  in  Chauvelin’s  keen,  pale  eyes.  If 
she  had  played  him  a trick,  Armand  St  Just  would  suffer 
the  extreme  penalty. 

But  no,  no  ! of  course  she  had  not  played  him  false ! 

Fortunately  the  supper-room  was  deserted : this 
would  make  Chauvelin’s  task  all  the  easier,  when 
presently  that  unsuspecting  enigma  would  enter  it  alone. 
No  one  was  here  now  save  Chauvelin  himself. 

Stay ! as  he  surveyed  with  a satisfied  smile  the  solitude 
of  the  room,  the  cunning  agent  of  the  French  Govern- 
ment became  aware  of  the  peaceful,  monotonous  breath- 
ing of  some  one  of  my  Lord  Grenville’s  guests,  wuo,  no 
doubt,  had  supped  both  wisely  and  well,  and  was  enjoy- 
ing a quiet  sleep,  away  from  the  din  of  the  dancing  above* 


138  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

Chauvelin  looked  round  once  more,  and  there  in  the 
comer  of  a sofa,  in  the  dark  angle  of  the  room,  his 
mouth  open,  his  eyes  shut,  the  sweet  sounds  of  peaceful 
slumbers  proceeding  from  his  nostrils,  reclined  the 
gorgeously-apparelled,  long-limbed  husband  of  the 
cleverest  woman  in  Europe. 

Chauvelin  looked  at  him  as  he  lay  there,  placid,  un- 
conscious, at  peace  with  all  the  world  and  himself,  after 
the  best  of  suppers,  and  a smile,  that  was  almost  one  of 
pity,  softened  for  a moment  the  hard  lines  of  the  French- 
man’s face  and  the  sarcastic  twinkle  of  his  pale  eyes. 

Evidently  the  slumberer,  deep  in  dreamless  sleep, 
would  not  interfere  with  Chauvelin’s  trap  for  catching 
that  cunning  Scarlet  Pimpernel.  Again  he  rubbed  his 
hands  together,  and,  following  the  example  of  Sir  Percy 
Blakeney,  he  too  stretched  himself  out  in  the  corner  of 
another  sofa,  shut  his  eyes,  opened  his  mouth,  gave  forth 
sounds  of  peaceful  breathing,  and  . . . waited  1 


CHAPTER  XV 


DOUBT 

Marguerite  Blakbney  had  watched  the  slight  sable-clad 
figure  of  Chauvelin,  as  he  worked  his  way  through  the 
ball-room.  Then  perforce  she  had  had  to  wait,  while 
her  nerves  tingled  with  excitement. 

Listlessly  she  sat  in  the  small,  still  deserted  boudoir, 
looking  out  through  the  curtained  doorway  on  the 
dancing  couples  beyond:  looking  at  them,  yet  seeing 
nothing,  hearing  the  music,  yet  conscious  of  naug’it 
save  a feeling  of  expectancy,  of  anxious,  weary  waiting. 

Her  mind  conjured  up  before  her  the  vision  o.  what 
was,  perhaps  at  this  very  moment,  passing  downstairs. 
The  half-deserted  dining-room,  the  fateful  hour  — 
Chauvelin  on  the  watch ! — then,  precise  to  the  moment, 
the  entrance  of  a man,  he,  the  Scavlet  Pjmpernel,  the 
mysterious  leader,  who  to  Marguerite  had  become 
almost  unreal,  so  strange,  so  weird  was  this  hidden 
identity. 

She  wished  she  were  in  the  supper-room,  too,  at  this 
moment,  watching  him  as  he  entered  ; she  knew  that  her 
woman’s  penetration  would  at  once  recognise  in  the 
stranger’s  face — whoever  he  might  be — that  strong 
individuality  which  belongs  to  a leader  of  men — to  a 
hero : to  the  mighty,  high-soaring  eagle,  whose  daring 
wings  were  becoming  entangled  in  the  ferret’s  trap. 

Woman-like,  she  thought  of  him  with  unmixed  sadness ; 
the  irony  of  that  fate  seemed  so  cruel  which  allowed  the 

139 


140  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

fearless  lion  to  succumb  to  the  gnawing  of  a rat ! Ah  1 
had  Armand’s  life  not  been  at  stake  ! . . . 

“ Faith  ! your  ladyship  must  have  thought  me  very 
remiss,”  said  a voice  suddenly,  close  to  her  elbow.  “ I 
had  a deal  of  difficulty  in  delivering  your  message,  for 
I could  not  find  Blakeney  anywhere  at  first  . . 

Marguerite  had  forgotten  all  about  her  husband  and 
her  message  to  him  ; his  very  name,  as  spoken  by  Lord 
Fancourt,  sounded  strange  and  unfamiliar  to  her,  so 
completely  had  she  in  the  last  five  minutes  lived  her  old 
life  in  the  Rue  de  Richelieu  again,  with  Armand  always 
near  her  to  love  and  protect  her,  to  guard  her  from  the 
many  subtle  intrigues  which  were  for  ever  raging  in  Paris 
in  those  days. 

“ I did  find  him  at  last,”  continued  Lord  Fancourt, 

* and  gave  him  your  message.  He  said  that  he  would 
giVv  orders  at  once  for  the  horses  to  be  put  to.” 

“ Ah  I ” she  said,  still  very  absently,  “ you  found  my 
husband,  und  gave  him  my  message  ? ” 

“ Yes ; he  fc'is  in  the  dining-room  fast  asleep.  I could 
not  manage  to  wake  him  up  at  first.” 

“ Thank  you  very  much,”  she  said  mechanically,  try- 
ing to  collect  her  thoughts. 

“ Will  your  ladyship  honour  me  with  the  contredans* 
until  your  coach  is  ready  ? ” asked  Lord  Fancourt. 

“No,  I thank  you,  my  lord,  but — an  you  will  forgive 
me— I really  am  too  tired,  and  the  heat  in  the  ball-room 
has  become  oppressive.” 

“ The  conservatory  is  deliciously  cool ; let  me  take 
you  there,  and  then  get  you  something.  You  seem 
ailing,  Lady  Blakeney.” 

“ I am  only  very  tired,”  she  repeated  wearily,  as  she 
allowed  Lord  Fancourt  to  lead  her,  where  subdued  lights 
and  green  plants  lent  coolness  to  the  air.  He  got  her  a 


DOUBT 


14X 

chair,  into  which  she  sank.  This  long  interval  of  waiting 
was  intolerable.  Why  did  not  Chauvelin  come  and  tell 
her  the  result  of  his  watch  ? 

Lord  Fancourt  was  very  attentive.  She  scarcely 
heard  what  he  said,  and  suddenly  startled  him  by 
asking  abruptly, — 

“Lord  Fancourt,  did  you  perceive  who  was  in  the 
dining- room  just  now  besides  Sir  Percy  Blakeney  ? ” 

“Only  the  agent  of  the  French  Government,  M. 
Chauvelin,  equally  fast  asleep  in  another  corner,”  he 
said.  “ Why  does  your  ladyship  ask  ? ” 

“ I know  not  . . . I . . . Did  you  notice  the  time 
when  you  were  there  ? ” 

“ It  must  have  been  about  five  or  ten  minutes  past 
one.  ...  I wonder  what  your  ladyship  is  thinking 
about,”  he  added,  for  evidently  the  fair  lady’s  thoughts 
were  very  far  away,  and  she  had  not  been  listening  to  his 
intellectual  conversation. 

But  indeed  her  thoughts  were  not  very  far  away : only 
one  storey  below,  in  this  same  house,  in  the  dining-room 
where  sat  Chauvelin  still  on  the  watch.  Had  he  failed  ? 
For  one  instant  that  possibility  rose  before  her  as  a 
hope — the  hope  that  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel  had  been 
warned  by  Sir  Andrew,  and  that  Chauvelin’s  trap  had 
failed  to  catch  his  bird ; but  that  hope  soon  gave  way  to 
fear.  Had  he  failed  ? But  then — Armand  ! 

Lord  Fancourt  had  given  up  talking  since  he  found 
that  he  had  no  listener.  He  wanted  an  opportunity  for 
slipping  away  : for  sitting  opposite  to  a lady,  however 
fair,  who  is  evidently  not  heeding  the  most  vigorous 
efforts  made  for  her  entertainment,  is  not  exhilarating, 
even  to  a Cabinet  Minister. 

“ Shall  I find  out  if  your  ladyship’s  coach  is  ready," 
he  said  at  last,  tentatively. 


142  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

“ Oh,  thank  you  . . . thank  you  ...  if  you  would  bo 
so  kind  ...  I fear  I am  but  sorry  company  . . . but  1 
am  really  tired  . . . and,  perhaps,  would  be  best  alone.* 

She  had  been  longing  to  be  rid  of  him,  for  she  hoped 
that,  like  the  fox  he  so  resembled,  Chauvelin  would  be 
prowling  round,  thinking  to  find  her  alone. 

But  Lord  Fancourt  went,  and  still  Chauvelin  did  not 
come.  Oh ! what  had  happened  ? She  felt  Armand’s 
fate  trembling  in  the  balance  . . . she  feared — now  with 
a deadly  fear — that  Chauvelin  had  failed,  and  that  the 
mysterious  Scarlet  Pimpernel  had  proved  elusive  once 
more  ; then  she  knew  that  she  need  hope  for  no  pity,  no 
mercy,  from  him. 

He  had  pronounced  his  “ Either — or — ” and  nothing 
less  would  content  him  : he  was  very  spiteful,  and  would 
affect  the  belief  that  she  had  wilfully  misled  him,  and 
having  “ailed  to  trap  the  eagle  once  again,  his  revengeful 
mind  would  be  content  with  the  humble  prey — Arraand ! 

Yet  she  had  done  her  best ; had  strained  every  nerve 
for  Armand’s  sake.  She  could  not  bear  to  think  that 
all  had  failed.  She  could  not  sit  still ; she  wanted  to  go 
and  hear  the  worst  at  once ; she  wondered  even  that 
Chauvelin  had  not  come  yet,  to  vent  his  wrath  and  satire 
upon  her. 

Lord  Grenville  himself  came  presently  to  tell  her  that 
her  coach  was  ready,  and  that  Sir  Percy  was  already 
waiting  for  her — ribbons  in  hand.  Marguerite  said 
“Farewell”  to  her  distinguished  host;  many  of  her 
friends  stopped  her,  as  she  crossed  the  rooms,  to  talk  to 
her,  and  exchange  pleasant  au  revoirs. 

The  Minister  only  took  final  leave  of  beautiful  Lady 
Blakeney  on  the  top  of  the  stairs ; below,  on  the  landing8 
a veritable  army  of  gallant  gentlemen  were  waiting  to 
bid  “Good-bye”  to  the  queen  of  beauty  and  fashion, 


DOUBT 


143 


whilst  outside,  under  the  massive  portico,  Sir  Percy’s 
magnificent  bays  were  impatiently  pawing  the  ground. 

At  the  top  of  the  stairs,  just  after  she  had  taken  final 
leave  of  her  host,  she  suddenly  saw  Chauvelin ; he  was 
coming  up  the  stairs  slowly,  and  rubbing  his  thin  hands 
very  softly  together. 

There  was  a curious  look  on  his  mobile  face,  partly 
amused  and  wholly  puzzled,  and  as  his  keen  eyes  met 
Marguerite’s  they  became  strangely  sarcastic. 

“M.  Chauvelin,"  she  said,  as  he  stopped  on  the  top 
of  the  stairs,  bowing  elaborately  before  her,  “ my  coach 
is  outside ; may  I claim  your  arm  ? ” 

As  gallant  as  ever,  he  offered  her  his  arm  and  led  her 
downstairs.  The  crowd  was  very  great,  some  of  the 
Minister’s  guests  were  departing,  others  were  leaning 
against  the  banisters  watching  the  throng  as  it  filed  up 
and  down  the  wide  staircase. 

“Chauvelin,"  she  said  at  last  desperately,  “I  must 
know  what  has  happened.” 

“What  has  happened,  dear  lady?”  he  said,  with 
affected  surprise.  “Where?  When?” 

“You  are  torturing  me,  Chauvelin.  I have  helped 
you  to-night  . . . surely  I have  the  right  to  know. 
What  happened  in  the  dining-room  at  one  o’clock  just 
now  ? ” 

She  spoke  in  a *,'nisper,  trusting  that  in  the  general 
hubbub  of  the  crowd  her  words  would  remain  unheeded 
by  all,  save  the  man  at  her  side. 

“ Quiet  and  peace  reigned  supreme,  fair  lady ; at  that 
hour  I was  asleep  in  the  corner  of  one  sofa  and  Sir 
Percy  Blakeney  in  another.” 

“ Nobody  came  into  the  room  at  all? " 

“ Nobody.” 

M Then  we  have  failed,  you  and  I ? . . / 


144  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

“ Yes ! we  hare  failed — perhaps  . . .* 

“ But,  Armand  ? ” she  pleaded. 

“ Ah ! Armand  St  Just’s  chances  hang  on  a thread 
. . . pray  heaven,  dear  lady,  that  that  thread  may  not 
snap.” 

“Chauvelin,  I worked  for  you,  sincerely,  earnestly 
. . . remember.  . . 

“ I remember  my  promise,”  he  said  quietly ; “ the  day 
that  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel  and  I meet  on  French  soil, 
St  Just  will  be  in  the  arms  of  his  charming  sister.” 

“Which  means  that  a brave  man’s  blood  will  be  on 
my  hands,”  she  said,  with  a shudder. 

“ His  blood,  or  that  of  your  brother.  Surely  at  the 
present  moment  you  must  hope,  as  I do,  that  the 
enigmatical  Scarlet  Pimpernel  will  start  for  Calais 
to-day — * 

“ I am  only  conscious  of  one  hope,  citoyen.” 

“And  that  is  ? ” 

“That  Satan,  your  master,  will  have  need  of  you, 
elsewhere,  before  the  sun  rises  to-day.” 

“You  flatter  me,  citoyenne.” 

She  had  detained  him  for  a while,  midway  down  the 
stairs,  trying  to  get  at  the  thoughts  which  lay  beyond 
that  thin,  fox-like  mask.  But  Chauvelin  remained 
urbane,  sarcastic,  mysterious  ; not  a line  betrayed  to  the 
poor,  anxious  woman  whether  she  ^ed  fear  or  whether 
she  dared  to  hope. 

Downstairs  on  the  landing  she  was  soon  surrounded. 
Lady  Blakeney  never  stepped  from  any  house  into  her 
coach,  without  an  escort  of  fluttering  human  moths 
around  the  dazzling  light  of  her  beauty.  But  before  she 
finally  turned  away  from  Chauvelin,  she  held  out  a tiny 
hand  to  him,  with  that  pretty  gesture  of  childish  appeal 
which  was  so  essentially  her  own. 


DOUBT 


145 

"Give  me  some  hope,  my  little  Chauvelin,”  she 
pleaded. 

With  perfect  gallantry  he  bowed  over  that  tiny 
hand,  which  looked  so  dainty  and  white  through  the 
delicately  transparent  black  lace  mitten,  and  kissing  the 
tips  of  the  rosy  fingers : — 

"Pray  heaven  that  the  thread  may  not  snap,”  he 
repeated,  with  his  enigmatic  smile. 

And  stepping  aside,  he  allowed  the  moths  to  flutter 
more  closely  round  the  candle,  and  the  brilliant  throng 
of  the  jeunesse  dor'ee , eagerly  attentive  to  Lady  Blakeney’s 
every  movement,  hid  the  keen,  fox-like  face  from  her 
view. 


i 


CHAPTER  XVI 


RICHMOND 

A few  minutes  later  she  was  sitting,  wrapped  in  cosy 
furs,  near  Sir  Percy  Blakeney  on  the  box-seat  of  his 
magnificent  coach,  and  the  four  splendid  bays  had 
thundered  down  the  quiet  street. 

The  night  was  warm  in  spite  of  the  gentle  breeze 
which  fanned  Marguerite’s  burning  cheeks.  Soon 
London  houses  were  left  behind,  and  rattling  over  old 
Hammersmith  Bridge,  Sir  Percy  was  driving  his  bays 
rapidly  towards  Richmond. 

The  river  wound  in  and  out  in  its  pretty  delicate 
curves,  looking  like  a silver  serpent  beneath  the  glittering 
rays  of  the  moon.  Long  shadows  from  overhanging 
trees  spread  occasional  deep  palls  right  across  the  road. 
The  bays  were  rushing  along  at  breakneck  speed,  held 
but  slightly  back  by  Sir  Percy’s  strong,  unerring  hands. 

These  nightly  drives  after  balls  and  suppers  in  London 
were  a source  of  perpetual  delight  to  Marguerite,  and 
she  appreciated  her  husband’s  eccentricity  keenly,  which 
caused  him  to  adopt  this  mode  of  taking  her  home  every 
night,  to  their  beautiful  home  by  the  river,  instead  of 
living  in  a stuffy  London  house.  He  loved  driving  his 
spirited  horses  along  the  lonely,  moonlit  roads,  and  she 
loved  to  sit  on  the  box-seat,  with  the  sof*  air  of  an 
English  late  summer’s  night  fanning  her  face  after  the  hot 
atmosphere  of  a ball  or  supper-party.  The  drive  was 
146 


RICHMOND 


147 

not  a long  one — less  than  an  hour,  sometimes,  when 
the  bays  were  very  fresh,  and  Sir  Percy  gave  them  full 
rein. 

To-night  he  seemed  to  have  a very  devil  in  his 
fingers,  and  the  coach  seemed  to  fly  along  the  road, 
beside  the  river.  As  usual,  he  did  not  speak  to  her, 
but  stared  straight  in  front  of  him,  the  ribbons  seeming 
to  lie  quite  loosely  in  his  slender,  white  hands.  Mar- 
guerite looked  at  him  tentatively  once  or  twice;  she 
could  see  his  handsome  profile,  and  one  lazy  eye,  with 
its  straight  fine  brow  and  drooping  heavy  lid. 

'"he  face  in  the  moonlight  looked  singularly  earnest, 
and  recalled  to  Marguerite’s  aching  heart  those  happy 
days  of  courtship,  before  he  had  become  the  lazy  nin- 
compoop, the  effete  fop,  whose  life  seemed  spent  in 
card  and  supper  rooms. 

But  now,  in  the  moonlight,  she  could  not  catch  the 
expression  of  the  lazy  blue  eyes;  she  could  only  see 
the  outline  of  the  firm  chin,  the  corner  of  the  strong 
mouth,  the  well-cut  massive  shape  of  the  forehead; 
truly,  nature  had  meant  well  by  Sir  Percy;  his  faults 
must  all  be  laid  at  the  door  of  that  poor,  half-crazy 
mother,  and  of  the  distracted  heart-broken  father, 
neither  of  whom  had  cared  for  the  young  life,  which 
was  sprouting  up  between  them,  and  which,  perhaps, 
their  very  carelessness  was  already  beginning  to  wreck. 

Marguerite  suddenly  felt  intense  sympathy  for  her 
husband.  The  moral  crisis  she  had  just  gone  through 
made  her  feel  indulgent  towards  the  faults,  the  delin- 
quencies, of  others. 

How  thoroughly  a human  being  can  be  buffeted  and 
overmastered  by  Fate,  had  been  borne  in  upon  her  with 
appalling  force.  Had  anyone  told  her  a week  ago  that 
she  would  stoop  to  spy  upon  her  friends,  that  she  would 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

betray  a brave  and  unsuspecting  man  into  the  hands  of 
a relentless  enemy,  she  would  have  laughed  the  idea  to 
scorn. 

Yet  she  had  done  these  things : anon,  perhaps  the 
death  of  that  brave  man  would  be  at  her  door,  just  as 
two  years  ago  the  Marquis  de  St  Cyr  had  perished 
through  a thoughtless  word  of  hers ; but  in  that  case 
she  was  morally  innocent — she  had  meant  no  serious 
harm — fate  merely  had  stepped  in.  But  this  time  she 
had  done  a thing  that  obviously  was  base,  had  done  it 
deliberately,  for  a motive  which,  perhaps,  high  moralists 
would  not  even  appreciate. 

And  as  she  felt  her  husband’s  strong  arm  beside  her, 
she  also  felt  how  much  more  he  would  dislike  and 
despise  her,  if  he  knew  of  this  night’s  work.  Thus 
human  beings  judge  of  one  another,  superficially, 
casually,  throwing  contempt  on  one  another,  with  but 
little  reason,  and  no  charity.  She  despised  her  husband 
for  his  inanities  and  vulgar,  unintellectual  occupations ; 
and  he,  she  felt,  would  despise  her  still  worse,  because 
she  had  not  been  strong  enough  to  do  right  for  right’s 
sake,  and  to  sacrifice  her  brother  to  the  dictates  of  her 
conscience. 

Buried  in  her  thoughts,  Marguerite  had  found  this 
hour  in  the  breezy  summer  night  all  too  brief;  and  it 
was  with  a feeling  of  keen  disappointment,  that  she 
suddenly  realised  that  the  bays  had  turned  into  the 
massive  gates  of  her  beautiful  English  home. 

Sir  Percy  Blakeney’s  house  on  the  river  has  become 
a historic  one : palatial  in  its  dimensions,  it  stands  in 
the  midst  of  exquisitely  laid -out  gardens,  with  a 
picturesque  terrace  and  frontage  to  the  river.  Built  in 
Tudor  days,  the  old  red  brick  of  the  walls  look 
eminently  picturesque  in  the  midst  of  a bower  of  green, 


RICHMOND 


*49 


the  beautiful  lawn,  with  its  old  sun-dial,  adding  the  true 
note  of  harmony  to  its  foreground.  Great  secular  trees 
lent  cool  shadows  to  the  grounds,  and  now,  on  this 
warm  early  autumn  night,  the  leaves  slightly  turned  to 
russets  and  gold,  the  old  garden  looked  singularly  poetic 
and  peaceful  in  the  moonlight. 

With  unerring  precision,  Sir  Percy  had  brought  the 
four  bays  to  a standstill  immediately  in  front  of  the  fine 
Elizabethan  entrance  hall ; in  spite  of  the  lateness  of 
the  hour,  an  army  of  grooms  seemed  to  have  emerged 
from  the  very  ground,  as  the  coach  had  thundered  up, 
and  were  standing  respectfully  round. 

Sir  Percy  jumped  down  quickly,  then  helped  Mar- 
guerite to  alight.  She  lingered  outside  for  a moment, 
\ nilst  he  gave  a few  orders  to  one  of  his  men.  She 
skirted  the  house,  and  stepped  on  to  the  lawn,  looking 
out  dreamily  into  the  silvery  landscape.  Nature  seemed 
exquisitely  at  peace,  in  comparison  with  the  tumultuous 
emotions  she  had  gone  through  : she  could  faintly  hear 
the  ripple  of  the  river  and  the  occasional  soft  and  ghost- 
like fall  of  a dead  leaf  from  a tree. 

All  else  was  quiet  round  her.  She  had  heard  the 
horses  prancing  as  they  were  being  led  away  to  their 
distant  stables,  the  hurrying  of  servants’  feet  as  they  had 
all  gone  within  to  rest : the  house  also  was  quite  still. 
In  two  separate  suites  of  apartments,  just  above  the 
magnificent  reception-rooms,  lights  were  still  burning; 
they  were  her  rooms,  and  his,  well  divided  from  each 
other  by  the  whole  width  of  the  house,  as  far  apart  as 
their  own  lives  had  become.  Involuntarily  she  sighed— 
at  that  moment  she  could  really  not  have  told  why. 

She  was  suffering  from  unconquerable  heartache. 
Deeply  and  achingly  she  was  sorry  for  herself.  Never 
had  she  felt  so  pitiably  lonely,  so  bitterly  in  want  of 


ISO  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


comfort  and  of  sympathy.  With  another  sigh  she 
turned  away  from  the  river  towards  the  house,  vaguely 
wondering  if,  after  such  a night,  she  could  ever  find  rest 
and  sleep. 

Suddenly,  before  she  reached  the  terrace,  she  heard  a 
firm  step  upon  the  crisp  gravel,  and  the  next  moment 
her  husband’s  figure  emerged  out  of  the  shadow.  He, 
too,  had  skirted  the  house,  and  was  wandering  along  the 
lawn,'  towards  the  river.  He  still  wore  his  heavy  driving 
coat  with  the  numerous  lapels  and  collars  he  himself 
had  set  in  fashion,  but  he  had  thrown  it  well  back, 
burying  his  hands  as  was  his  wont,  in  the  deep  pockets 
of  his  satin  breeches : the  gorgeous  white  costume  he 
had  worn  at  Lord  Grenville’s  ball,  with  its  jabot  of  price- 
less lace,  looked  strangely  ghostly  against  the  da*k 
background  of  the  house. 

He  apparently  did  not  notice  her,  for,  after  a few 
moments’  pause,  he  presently  turned  back  towards  the 
house,  and  walked  straight  up  to  the  terrace. 

H Sir  Percy  ! ” 

He  already  had  one  foot  on  the  lowest  of  the  terrace 
steps,  but  at  her  voice  he  started,  and  paused,  then 
looked  searchingly  into  the  shadows  whence  she  had 
called  to  him. 

She  came  forward  quickly  into  the  moonlight,  and,  as 
soon  as  he  saw  her,  he  said,  with  that  air  of  consummate 
gallantry  he  always  wore  when  speaking  to  her, — 

“ At  your  service,  Madame  ! ” 

But  his  foot  was  still  on  the  step,  and  in  his  whole 
attitude  there  was  a remote  suggestion,  distinctly  visible 
to  her,  that  he  wished  to  go,  and  had  no  desire  for  a 
midnight  interview. 

“The  air  is  deliciously  cool,”  she  said,  “the  moon- 
light peaceful  and  poetic,  and  the  garden  inviting.  Will 


RICHMOND 


IS* 

you  not  stay  in  it  awhile ; the  hour  is  not  yet  late,  or  is 
my  company  so  distasteful  to  you,  that  you  are  in  a 
hurry  to  rid  yourself  of  it  ? ” 

“ Nay,  Madame,”  he  rejoined  placidly,  “ but  *tis  on  the 
other  foot  the  shoe  happens  to  be,  and  I’ll  warrant  you’ll 
find  the  midnight  air  more  poetic  without  my  company : 
no  doubt  the  sooner  I remove  the  obstruction  the  better 
your  ladyship  will  like  it.” 

He  turned  once  more  to  go. 

“I  protest  you  mistake  me,  Sir  Percy,”  she  said 
hurriedly,  and  drawing  a little  closer  to  him ; “ the 
estrangement,  which,  alas ! has  arisen  between  us,  was 
none  of  my  making,  remember.” 

“ Begad  ! you  must  pardon  me  there,  Madame  1 ” he 
protested  coldly,  “my  memory  was  always  of  the 
shortest.” 

He  looked  her  straight  in  the  eyes,  with  that  lazy 
nonchalance  which  had  become  second  nature  to  him. 
She  returned  his  gaze  for  a moment,  then  her  eyes 
softened,  as  she  came  up  quite  close  to  him,  to  the  foot 
of  the  terrace  steps. 

“Of  the  shortest,  Sir  Percy?  Faith!  how  it  must 
have  altered  ! Was  it  three  years  ago  or  four  that  you 
saw  me  for  one  hour  in  Paris,  on  your  way  to  the  East. 
When  you  came  back  two  years  later  you  had  not  for- 
gotten me.” 

She  looked  divinely  pretty  as  she  stood  there  in  the 
moonlight,  with  the  fur-cloak  sliding  off  her  beautiful 
shoulders,  the  gold  embroidery  on  her  dress  shimmering 
around  her,  her  childlike  blue  eyes  turned  up  fully  at 
him. 

He  stood  for  a moment,  rigid  and  still,  but  for  the 
clenching  of  his  hand  against  the  stone  balustrade  of 
the  terrace. 


152  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

“ You  desired  my  presence,  Madame,”  he  said  frigidly, 
11 1 take  it  that  it  was  not  with  a view  to  indulging  in 
tender  reminiscences.” 

His  voice  certainly  was  cold  and  uncompromising : 
his  attitude  before  her,  stiff  and  unbending.  Womanly 
decorum  would  have  suggested  that  Marguerite  should 
return  coldness  for  coldness,  and  should  sweep  past 
him  without  another  word,  only  with  a curt  nod  of  the 
head : but  womanly  instinct  suggested  that  she  should 
remain — that  keen  instinct,  which  makes  a beautiful 
woman  conscious  of  her  powers  long  to  bring  to  her 
knees,  the  one  man  who  pays  her  no  homage.  She 
stretched  out  her  hand  to  him. 

“ Nay,  Sir  Percy,  why  not  ? the  present  is  not  so 
glorious  but  that  I should  not  wish  to  dwell  a little  in 
the  past.” 

He  bent  his  tall  figure,  and  taking  bold  of  the  ex- 
treme tip  of  the  fingers  which  she  still  held  out  to  him, 
he  kissed  them  ceremoniously. 

“ I’  faith,  Madame,”  he  said,  “ then  you  will  pardon 
me,  if  my  dull  wits  cannot  accompany  you  there.” 

Once  again  he  attempted  to  go,  once  more  her 
voice,  sweet  childlike,  almost  tender,  called  him 
back. 

“ Sir  Percy.” 

“ Your  servant,  Madame.” 

“ Is  it  possible  that  love  can  die  ? ” she  said  with 
sudden,  unreasoning  vehemence.  “ Methought  that  the 
passion  which  you  once  felt  for  me  would  outlast  the 
span  of  human  life.  Is  there  nothing  left  of  that  love, 
Percy  . . . which  might  help  you  ...  to  bridge  over 
that  sad  estrangement  ? ” 

His  massive  figure  seemed,  while  she  spoke  thus  to 
him,  to  stiffen  still  more,  the  strong  mouth  hardened,  * 


RICHMOND  153 

look  of  relentless  obstinacy  crept  into  the  habitually  lazy 
blue  eyes. 

“ With  what  object,  I pray  you,  Madame  ? ” he  asked 
coldly. 

“ I do  not  understand  you.” 

“Yet  ’tis  simple  enough,”  he  said  with  sudden  bitter- 
ness, which  seerped  literally  to  surge  through  his  words, 
though  he  was  making  visible  efforts  to  suppress  it,  “ I 
humbly  put  the  question  to  you,  for  my  slow  wits  are 
unable  to  grasp  the  cause  of  this,  your  ladyship’s  sudden 
new  mood.  Is  it  that  you  have  the  taste  to  renew  the 
devilish  sport  which  you  played  so  successfully  last 
year  ? Do  you  wish  to  see  me  once  more  a love-sick 
suppliant  at  your  feet,  so  that  you  might  again  have 
the  pleasure  of  kicking  me  aside,  like  a troublesome 
lap-dog  ? ” 

She  had  succeeded  in  rousing  him  for  the  moment : 
and  again  she  looked  straight  at  him,  for  it  was  thus  she 
remembered  him  a year  ago. 

“ Percy  ! I entreat  you  1 ” she  whispered,  “ can  we  not 
bury  the  past  ? ” 

“ Pardon  me,  Madame,  but  I understood  you  to  say 
that  your  desire  was  to  dwell  in  it.” 

“ Nay ! I spoke  not  of  that  past,  Percy ! ” she  said, 
while  a tone  of  tenderness  crept  into  her  voice.  “ Rather 
did  I speak  of  the  time  when  you  loved  me  still ! and  I 
...  oh  ! I was  vain  and  frivolous ; your  wealth  and 
position  allured  me : I married  you,  hoping  in  my  heart 
that  your  great  love  for  me  would  beget  in  me  a love  for 
you  . . . but,  alas ! . . .” 

The  moon  had  sunk  low  down  behind  a bank  of 
clouds.  In  the  e&st  a soft  grey  light  was  beginning  to 
chase  away  the  heavy  mantle  of  the  night.  He  could 
only  see  her  graceful  outline  now,  the  small  queenly 


154  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

head,  with  its  wealth  of  reddish  golden  curls,  and  the 
glittering  gems  forming  the  small,  star-shaped,  red  flower 
which  she  wore  as  a diadem  in  her  hair. 

“ Twenty-four  hours  after  our  marriage,  Madame,  the 
Marquis  de  St  Cyr  and  all  his  family  perished  on  the 
guillotine,  and  the  popular  rumour  reached  me  that  it 
was  the  wife  of  Sir  Percy  Blakeney  who  helped  to  send 
them  there.” 

“ Nay  ! I myself  told  you  the  truth  of  that  odious 
tale.” 

“ Not  till  after  it  had  been  recounted  to  me  by 
strangers,  with  all  its  horrible  details.” 

“ And  you  believed  them  then  and  there,”  she  said 
with  great  vehemence,  “ without  a proof  or  question — 
you  believed  that  I,  whom  you  vowed  you  loved  more 
than  life,  whom  you  professed  you  worshipped,  that  1 
could  do  a thing  so  base  as  these  strangers  chose  to 
recount.  You  thought  I meant  to  deceive  you  about  ;t 
all — that  I ought  to  have  spoken  before  I married  you : 
yet,  had  you  listened,  I would  have  told  you  that  up  to 
the  very  morning  on  which  St  Cyr  went  to  the  guillotine, 
I was  straining  every  nerve,  using  every  influence  I pos- 
sessed, to  save  him  and  his  family.  But  my  pride  sealed 
my  lips,  when  your  love  seemed  to  perish,  as  if  under  the 
knife  of  that  same  guillotine.  Yet  I would  have  told 
you  how  I was  duped!  Aye!  I,  whom  that  same 
popular  rumour  had  endowed  with  the  sharpest  w'its  in 
France  ! I was  tricked  into  doing  this  thing,  by  men 
who  knew  how  to  play  upon  my  love  for  an  only  brother, 
and  my  desire  for  revenge.  Was  it  unnatural  ? ” 

Her  voice  became  choked  with  tears.  She  paused 
for  a moment  or  two,  trying  to  regain  some  sort  of  com- 
posure. She  looked  appealingly  at  him,  almost  as  if  he 
were  her  judge.  He  had  allowed  her  to  speak  on  in  her 


RICHMOND 


155 

own  vehement,  impassioned  way,  offering  no  comment, 
no  word  of  sympathy : and  now,  while  she  paused, 
trying  to  swallow  down  the  hot  tears  that  gushed  to  hei 
eyes,  he  waited,  impassive  and  still.  The  dim,  grey 
light  of  early  dawn  seemed  to  make  his  tall  form  look  taller 
and  more  rigid.  The  lazy,  good-natured  face  looked 
strangely  altered.  Marguerite,  excited,  as  she  was,  could 
see  that  the  eyes  were  no  longer  languid,  the  mouth  no 
longer  good-humoured  and  inane.  A curious  look  oi 
intense  passion  seemed  to  glow  from  beneath  his  drooping 
lids,  the  mouth  was  tightly  closed,  the  lips  compressed, 
as  if  the  will  alone  held  that  surging  passion  in  check. 

Marguerite  Blakeney  was,  above  all,  a woman,  with 
all  a woman’s  fascinating  foibles,  all  a woman’s  most 
lovable  sins.  She  knew  in  a moment  that  for  the  past 
few  months  she  had  been  mistaken  : that  this  man  who 
stood  here  before  her,  cold  as  a statue,  when  her 
musical  voice  struck  upon  his  ear,  loved  her,  as  he  had 
loved  her  a year  ago  : that  his  passion  might  have  been 
dormant,  but  that  it  was  there,  as  strong,  as  intense,  as 
overwhelming,  as  when  first  her  lips  met  his  in  one  long, 
maddening  kiss. 

Pride  had  kept  him  from  her,  and,  woman-like,  she 
meant  to  win  back  that  conquest  which  had  been  hers 
before.  Suddenly  it  seemed  to  her,  that  the  only  happi- 
ness life  could  ever  hold  for  her  again  would  be  in  feel- 
ing that  man’s  kiss  once  more  upon  her  lips, 

“Listen  to  the  tale,  Sir  Percy,”  she  said,  and  her 
voice  now  was  low,  sweet,  infinitely  tender.  “Armand 
was  all  in  all  to  me ! We  had  no  parents,  and  brought 
one  another  up.  He  was  my  little  father,  and  I,  his 
tiny  mother ; we  loved  one  another  so.  Then  one  day 
—do  you  mind  me,  Sir  Percy  ? the  Marquis  de  St  Cyr 
had  my  brother  Armand  thrashed — thrashed  by  his 


156  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

lacqueys — that  brother  whom  I loved  better  than  all 
the  world ! And  his  offence  ? That  he,  a plebeian, 
had  dared  to  love  the  daughter  of  the  aristocrat;  for 
that  he  was  waylaid  and  thrashed  . . . thrashed  like 
a dog  within  an  inch  of  his  life ! Oh,  how  I suffered ! 
his  humiliation  had  eaten  into  my  very  soul!  When 
the  opportunity  occurred,  and  I was  able  to  take  my 
revenge,  I took  it.  But  I only  thought  to  bring  that 
proud  marquis  to  trouble  and  humiliation.  He  plotted 
with  Austria  against  his  own  country.  Chance  gave  me 
knowledge  of  this ; I spoke  of  it,  but  I did  not  know — 
how  could  I guess  ? — they  trapped  and  duped  me.  When 
I realised  what  I had  done,  it  was  too  late.” 

,“It  is  perhaps  a little  difficult,  Madame,”  said  Sir 
Percy,  after  a moment  of  silence  between  them,  “to 
go  back  over  the  past.  I have  confessed  to  you  that 
my  memory  is  short,  but  the  thought  certainly  lingered 
in  my  mind  that,  at  the  time  of  the  Marquis’  death,  I 
entreated  you  for  an  explanation  of  those  same  noisome 
popular  rumours.  It  that  same  memory  does  not,  even 
now,  play  me  a trick,  I fancy  that  you  refused  me  all 
explanation  then,  and  demanded  of  my  love  a humiliat- 
ing allegiance  it  was  not  prepared  to  give.” 

“I  wished  to  test  your  love  for  me,  and  it  did 
not  bear  the  test.  You  used  to  tell  me  that  you 
drew  the  very  breath  of  life  but  for  me,  and  for  love 
of  me.” 

“And  to  probe  that  love,  you  demanded  that  I 
should  forfeit  mine  honour,”  he  said,  whilst  gradually 
his  impassiveness  seemed  to  leave  him,  his  rigidity  to 
relax;  “that  I should  accept  without  murmur  or  ques- 
tion, as  a dumb  and  submissive  slave,  every  action  of 
my  mistress.  My  heart  overflowing  with  love  and 
passion,  I asked  for  no  explanation — I waited  for  one, 


RICHMOND 


*57 


not  doubting — only  hoping.  Had  you  spoken  but  one 
word,  from  you  I would  have  accepted  any  explanation 
and  believed  it.  But  you  left  me  without  a word, 
beyond  a bald  confession  of  the  actual  horrible  facts; 
proudly  you  returned  to  your  brother’s  house,  and  left 
me  alone  ...  for  weeks  . . . not  knowing,  now,  in 
whom  to  believe,  since  the  shrine,  which  contained  my 
one  illusion,  lay  shattered  to  earth  at  my  feet.” 

She  need  not  complain  now  that  he  was  cold  and 
impassive;  his  very  voice  shook  with  an  intensity  of 
passion,  which  he  was  making  superhuman  efforts  to 
keep  in  check. 

“Aye!  the  madness  of  my  pride!”  she  said  sadly. 
“Hardly  had  I gone,  already  I had  repented.  But 
when  I returned,  I found  you,  oh,  so  altered ! wearing 
already  that  mask  of  somnolent  indifference  which 
you  have  never  laid  aside  until  . . . until  now.” 

She  was  so  close  to  him  that  her  soft,  loose  hair  was 
wafted  against  his  cheek ; her  eyes,  glowing  with  tears, 
maddened  him,  the  music  in  her  voice  sent  fire  through 
his  veins.  But  he  would  not  yield  to  the  magic  charm 
of  this  woman  whom  he  had  so  deeply  loved,  and  at 
whose  hands  his  pride  had  suffered  so  bitterly.  He 
closed  his  eyes  to  shut  out  the  dainty  vision  of  that 
sweet  face,  of  that  snow-white  neck  and  graceful  figure, 
round  which  the  faint  rosy  light  of  dawn  was  just 
beginning  to  hover  playfully. 

“ Nay,  Madame,  it  is  no  mask,”  he  said  icily ; “ I swore 
to  you  . . . once,  that  my  life  was  yours.  For  months 
now  it  has  been  your  plaything  ...  it  has  served  its 
purpose.” 

But  now  she  knew  that  that  very  coldness  was  a 
mask.  The  trouble,  the  sorrow  she  had  gone  through 
last  night,  suddenly  came  back  to  her  mind,  but  no 


158  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

longer  with  bitterness,  rather  with  a feeling  that  this 
man,  who  loved  her,  would  help  her  to  bear  the 
burden. 

“Sir  Percy,”  she  said  impulsively,  “Heaven  knows 
you  have  been  at  pains  to  make  the  task,  which  I had 
set  to  myself,  terribly  difficult  to  accomplish.  You 
spoke  of  my  mood  just  now;  well!  we  will  call  it 
that,  if  you  will.  I wished  to  speak  to  you  . . . be- 
cause . . . because  I was  in  trouble  . . . and  had 
need  ...  of  your  sympathy.” 

“ It  is  yours  to  command,  Madame.” 

“ How  cold  you  are ! ” she  sighed.  “ Faith  1 I can 
scarce  believe  that  but  a few  months  ago  one  tear 
in  my  eye  had  set  you  well-nigh  crazy.  Now  I 
come  to  you  . . . with  a half-broken  heart  . . . and 
...  and  . . .” 

“ I pray  you,  Madame,”  he  said,  whilst  his  voice  shook 
almost  as  much  as  hers,  “in  what  way  can  I serve 
you  ? ” 

“Percy! — Armand  is  in  deadly  danger.  A lettei 
of  his  . . . rash,  impetuous,  as  were  all  his  actions, 
and  written  to  Sir  Andrew  Ffoulkes,  has  fallen  into 
the  hands  of  a fanatic.  Armand  is  hopelessly  com- 
promised . . . to-morrow,  perhaps  he  will  be  arrested 
. . . after  that  the  guillotine  . . . unless  . . . unless 
...  oh ! it  is  horrible  1 ”...  she  said,  with  a sudden 
wail  of  anguish,  as  all  the  events  of  the  past  night  came 
rushing  back  to  her  mind,  “horrible!  . . . and  you 
do  not  understand  . . . you  cannot  . . . and  I have 
no  one  to  whom  I can  turn  ...  for  help  ...  or  even 
for  sympathy.  ...” 

Tears  now  refused  to  be  held  back.  All  her  trouble, 
her  struggles,  the  awful  uncertainty  of  Armand’s  fate 

overwhelmed  her.  She  tottered,  ready  to  fall,  and 


RICHMOND 


15* 

leaning  against  the  stone  balustrade,  she  buried  her 
face  in  her  hands  and  sobbed  bitterly. 

At  first  mention  of  Armand  St  Just’s  name  and  of 
the  peril  in  which  he  stood,  Sir  Percy’s  face  had  become 
a shade  more  pale ; and  the  look  of  determination  and 
obstinacy  appeared  more  marked  than  ever  between 
his  eyes.  However,  he  said  nothing  for  the  moment, 
but  watched  her,  as  her  delicate  frame  was  shaken  with 
sobs,  watched  her  until  unconsciously  his  face  softened, 
and  what  looked  almost  like  tears,  seemed  to  glisten  in 
his  eyes. 

“And  so,”  he  said  with  bitter  sarcasm,  “the  murder- 
ous dog  of  the  revolution  is  turning  upon  the  very  hands 
that  fed  it?  . . . Begad,  Madame,”  he  added  very 
gently,  as  Marguerite  continued  to  sob  hysterically, 
“will  you  dry  your  tears?  ...  I never  could  bear 
to  see  a pretty  woman  cry,  and  I . . .* 

Instinctively,  with  sudden,  overmastering  passion, 
at  sight  of  her  helplessness  and  of  her  grief,  he  stretched 
out  his  arms,  and  the  next,  would  have  seized  her  and 
held  her  to  him,  protected  from  every  evil  with  his  very 
life,  his  very  heart’s  blood.  . . . But  pride  had  the 
better  of  it  in  this  struggle  once  again ; he  restrained 
himself  with  a tremendous  effort  of  will,  and  said  coldly, 
though  still  very  gently, — 

“Will  you  not  turn  to  me,  Madame?  and  tell  me  in 
what  way  I may  have  the  honour  to  serve  you  ? ” 

She  made  a violent  effort  to  control  herself,  and 
turning  her  tear-stained  face  to  him,  she  once  more 
held  out  her  hand,  which  he  kissed  with  the  same 
punctilious  gallantry;  but  Marguerite’s  fingers,  this 
time,  lingered  in  his  hand  for  a second  or  two  longer 
than  was  absolutely  necessary,  and  this  was  because 
ebe  had  felt  that  his  hand  trembled  perceptibly  and 


160  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


was  burning  hot,  whilst  his  lips  felt  as  cold  as 
marble. 

“ Can  you  do  ought  for  Armand  ? n she  said  sweetly 
and  simply.  “You  have  so  much  influence  at  court 
...  so  many  friends  . . .” 

“Nay,  Madame,  should  you  not  rather  seek  the  in- 
fluence of  your  French  friend,  M.  Chauvelin?  His 
extends,  if  I mistake  not,  even  as  far  as  the  Republican 
Government  of  France.  n 

“ I cannot  ask  him,  Percy.  ...  Oh  ! I wish  I dared 
to  tell  you  . . . but  . . . but  ...  he  has  put  a price 
on  my  brother's  head,  which  ...” 

She  would  have  given  worlds  if  she  had  felt  the  courage 
then  to  tell  him  everything  ...  all  she  had  done  that 
night — how  she  had  suffered  and  how  her  hand  had 
been  forced.  But  she  dared  not  give  way  to  that  im- 
pulse . . . not  now,  when  she  was  just  beginning  to  feel 
that  be  still  loved  her,  when  she  hoped  that  she  could 
win  him  back.  She  dared  not  make  another  confession 
to  him.  After  all,  he  might  not  understand ; he 
might  not  sympathise  with  her  struggles  and  tempta- 
tion. His  love  still  dormant  might  sleep  the  sleep  of 
death. 

Perhaps  he  divined  what  was  passing  in  her  mind. 
His  whole  attitude  was  one  of  intense  longing — a verit- 
able prayer  for  that  confidence,  which  her  foolish  pride 
withheld  from  him.  When  she  remained  silent  he  sighed, 
and  said  with  marked  coldness — 

“ Faith,  Madame,  since  it  distresses  you,  we  will  not 
speak  of  it  . . . As  for  Armand,  I pray  you  have  no 
fear.  I pledge  you  my  word  that  he  shall  be  safe.  Now, 
have  I your  permission  to  go  ? The  hour  is  getting  late, 
and  . , 

“ You  will  at  least  accept  my  gratitude  ? ” she  said,  aa 


RICHMOND  161 

the  drew  quite  close  to  him,  and  speaking  with  real 
tenderness. 

With  a quick,  almost  involuntary  effort  he  would  have 
taken  her  then  in  his  arms,  for  her  eyes  were  swimming 
in  tears,  which  he  longed  to  kiss  away;  but  she  had 
lured  him  once,  just  like  this,  then  cast  him  aside  like  an 
ill-fitting  glove.  He  thought  this  was  but  a mood,  a 
caprice,  and  he  was  too  proud  to  lend  himself  to  it  once 
again. 

“ It  is  too  soon,  Madame ! ” he  said  quietly ; 11 1 have 
done  nothing  as  yet.  The  hour  is  late,  and  you  must  be 
fatigued.  Your  women  will  be  waiting  for  you  upstairs.” 

He  stood  aside  to  allow  her  to  pass.  She  sighed,  a 
quick  sigh  of  disappointment.  His  pride  and  her  beauty 
had  been  in  direct  conflict,  and  his  pride  had  remained 
the  conqueror.  Perhaps,  after  all,  she  had  been  de- 
ceived just  now ; what  she  took  to  be  the  light  of  love 
in  his  eyes  might  only  have  been  the  passion  of  pride  or, 
who  knows,  of  hatred  instead  of  love.  She  stood  look- 
ing at  him  for  a moment  or  two  longer.  He  was  again 
as  rigid,  as  impassive,  as  before.  Pride  had  conquered, 
and  he  cared  naught  for  her.  The  grey  of  dawn  was 
gradually  yielding  to  the  rosy  light  of  the  rising  sun. 
Birds  began  to  twitter ; Nature  awakened,  smiling  in 
happy  response  to  the  warmth  of  this  glorious  October 
morning.  Only  between  these  two  hearts  there  lay  a 
strong,  impassable  barrier,  built  up  of  pride  on  both 
sides,  which  neither  of  them  cared  to  be  the  first  to 
demolish. 

He  had  bent  his  tall  figure  in  a low  ceremonious  bow, 
as  she  finally,  with  another  bitter  little  sigh,  began  to 
mount  the  terrace  steps. 

The  long  train  of  her  gold-embroidered  gown  swept 
the  dead  leaves  off  the  steps,  making  a faint  harmonious 


162  the  scarlet  pimpernel 


sh — sh — sh  as  she  glided  up,  with  one  hand  resting  on 
the  balustrade,  the  rosy  light  of  dawn  making  an 
aureole  of  gold  round  her  hair,  and  causing  the  rubies 
on  her  head  and  arms  to  sparkle.  She  reached  the  tall 
glass  doors  which  led  into  the  house.  Before  entering, 
she  paused  once  again  to  look  at  him,  hoping  against 
hope  to  see  his  arms  stretched  out  to  her,  and  to  hear 
his  voice  calling  her  back.  But  he  had  not  moved ; his 
massive  figure  looked  the  very  personification  of  unbend- 
ing pride,  of  fierce  obstinacy. 

Hot  tears  again  surged  to  her  eyes,  and  as  she  would 
not  let  him  see  them,  she  turned  quickly  within,  and  ran 
as  fast  as  she  could  up  to  her  own  rooms. 

Had  she  but  turned  back  then,  and  looked  out  once 
more  on  to  the  rose-lit  garden,  she  would  have  seen  that 
which  would  have  made  her  own  sufferings  seem  but 
light  and  easy  to  bear — a strong  man,  overwhelmed  with 
his  own  passion  and  his  own  despair.  Pride  had  given 
way  at  last,  obstinacy  was  gone : the  will  was  powerless. 
He  was  but  a man  madly,  blindly,  passionately  in  love, 
and  as  soon  as  her  light  footstep  had  died  away  within  the 
house,  he  knelt  down  upon  the  terrace  steps,  and  in  the 
very  madness  of  his  love  he  kissed  one  by  one  the  places 
where  her  small  foot  had  trodden,  and  the  stone  balus- 
trade there,  where  her  tiny  hand  had  rested  last. 


CHAPTER  XYII 


FAREWELL 

When  Marguerite  reached  her  room,  she  found  her  maid 
terribly  anxious  about  her. 

“ Your  ladyship  will  be  so  tired,”  said  the  poor  woman, 
whose  own  eyes  were  half  closed  with  sleep.  “ It  is  past 
five  o’clock.” 

u Ah,  yes,  Louise,  I daresay  I shall  be  tired  presently,” 
said  Marguerite,  kindly ; “ but  you  are  very  tired  now, 
so  go  to  bed  at  once.  I’ll  get  into  bed  alone.” 

“ But,  my  lady  . . .” 

“ Now,  don’t  argue,  Louise,  but  go  to  bed.  Give  me 
a wrap,  and  leave  me  alone.” 

Louise  was  only  too  glad  to  obey.  She  took  off  her 
mistress’s  gorgeous  ball-dress,  and  wrapped  her  up  in  a 
soft  billowy  gown. 

“Does  your  ladyship  wish  for  anything  else?”  she 
asked,  when  that  was  done. 

“ No,  nothing  more.  Put  out  the  lights  as  you  go 
out.” 

“ Yes,  my  lady.  Good-night,  my  lady.” 

M Good-night,  Louise.” 

When  the  maid  was  gone,  Marguerite  drew  aside  the 
curtains  and  threw  open  the  windows.  The  garden  and 
the  river  beyond  were  flooded  with  rosy  light.  Far  away 
to  the  ea*t,  the  rays  of  the  rising  sun  had  changed  the 
rose  intc  vivid  gold.  The  lawn  was  deserted  now,  and 
Marguerite  looked  down  upon  the  terrace  where  she  had 
163 


(64  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

stood  a few  moments  ago  trying  vainly  to  win  back  a 
man’s  love,  which  once  had  been  so  wholly  hers. 

It  was  strange  that  through  all  her  troubles,  all  her 
anxiety  for  Armand,  she  was  mostly  conscious  at  the 
present  moment  of  a keen  and  bitter  heartache. 

Her  very  limbs  seemed  to  ache  with  longing  for  the 
love  of  a man  who  had  spurned  her,  who  had  resisted 
her  tenderness,  remained  cold  to  her  appeals,  and  had 
not  responded  to  the  glow  of  passion,  which  had  caused 
her  to  feel  and  hope  that  those  happy  olden  days  in  Paris 
were  not  all  dead  and  forgotten. 

How  strange  it  all  was ! She  loved  him  still.  And 
now  that  she  looked  back  upon  the  last  few  months  of 
misunderstandings  and  of  loneliness,  she  realised  that 
she  had  never  ceased  to  love  him ; that  deep  down  in 
her  heart  she  had  always  vaguely  felt  that  his  foolish 
inanities,  hi3  empty  laugh,  his  lazy  nonchalance  were 
nothing  but  a mask;  that  the  real  man,  strong,  pas- 
sionate, wilful,  was  there  still — the  man  she  had  loved, 
whose  intensity  had  fascinated  her,  whose  personality 
attracted  her,  since  she  always  felt  that  behind  his 
apparently  slow  wits  there  was  a certain  something,  which 
he  kept  hidden  from  all  the  world,  and  most  especially 
from  her. 

A woman’s  heart  is  such  a complex  problem — the 
owner  thereof  is  often  most  incompetent  to  find  the 
solution  of  this  puzzle. 

Did  Marguerite  Blakeney,  “the  cleverest  woman  in 
Europe,”  really  love  a fool  ? Was  it  love  that  she  had 
felt  for  him  a year  ago  when  she  married  him  ? Was  it 
love  she  felt  for  him  now  that  she  realised  that  he  still 
loved  her,  but  that  he  would  not  become  her  slave,  her 
passionate,  ardent  lover  once  again  ? Nay  ! Marguerite 
herself  could  not  have  told  that.  Not  at  this  moment 


FAREWELL 


165 

At  anyrate;  perhaps  her  pride  had  sealed  her  mind 
against  a better  understanding  of  her  own  heart.  But 
this  she  did  know — that  she  meant  to  capture  that 
obstinate  heart  back  again.  That  she  would  conquer 
£ once  more  . . . and  then,  that  she  would  never  lose 
him.  . . . She  would  keep  him,  keep  his  love,  deserve 
it,  and  cherish  it ; for  this  much  was  certain,  that  there 
was  no  longer  any  happiness  possible  for  her  without 
that  one  man’s  love. 

Thus  the  most  contradictory  thoughts  and  emotions 
rushed  madly  through  her  mind.  Absorbed  in  them, 
she  had  allowed  time  to  slip  by,  perhaps,  tired  out 
with  long  excitement,  she  had  actually  closed  her  eyes 
and  sank  into  a troubled  sleep,  wherein  quickly 
fleeting  dreams  seemed  but  the  continuation  of  her 
anxious  thoughts — when  suddenly  she  was  roused,  from 
dream  or  meditation,  by  the  noise  of  footsteps  outside 
her  door. 

Nervously  she  jumped  up  and  listened  : the  house 
itself  was  as  still  as  ever;  the  footsteps  had  retreated. 
Through  her  wide-open  windows  the  brilliant  rays  of  the 
morning  sun  were  flooding  her  room  with  light.  She 
looked  up  at  the  clock ; it  was  half-past  six — too  early 
for  any  of  the  household  to  be  already  astir. 

She  certainly  must  have  dropped  asleep,  quite  un- 
consciously. The  noise  of  the  footsteps,  also  of 
hushed,  subdued  voices  had  awakened  her — what  could 
they  be  ? 

Gently,  on  tip  toe,  she  crossed  the  room  and  opened 
the  door  to  listen  ; not  a sound — that  peculiar  stillness 
of  the  early  morning  when  sleep  with  all  mankind  is  at 
its  heaviest.  But  the  noise  had  made  her  nervous,  and 
when,  suddenly,  at  her  feet,  on  the  very  doorstep,  she 
saw  something  white  lying  there — a letter  evidently — 


1 66  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


she  hardly  dared  touch  it.  It  seemed  so  ghostlike.  It 
certainly  was  not  there  when  she  came  upstairs  ; had 
Louise  dropped  it  ? or  was  some  tantalising  spook  at 
play,  showing  her  fairy  letters  where  none  existed  ? 

At  last  she  stooped  to  pick  it  up,  and,  amazed,  puzzled 
beyond  measure,  she  saw  that  the  letter  was  addressed 
to  herself  in  her  husband’s  large,  businesslike-looking 
hand.  What  could  he  have  to  say  to  her,  in  the  middle 
of  the  night,  which  could  not  be  put  off  until  the 
morning  ? 

She  tore  open  the  envelope  and  read  : — 

“ A most  unforeseen  circumstance  forces  me  to  leave 
for  the  North  immediately,  so  I beg  your  ladyship’s 
pardon  if  I do  not  avail  myself  of  the  honour  of  bidding 
you  good-bye.  My  business  may  keep  me  employed 
for  about  a week,  so  I shall  not  have  the  privilege  of 
being  present  at  your  ladyship’s  water-party  on  Wednes- 
day. I remain  your  ladyship’s  most  humble  and  most 
obedient  servant,  Percy  Blakeney.” 

Marguerite  must  suddenly  have  been  imbued  with  her 
husband’s  slowness  of  intellect,  for  she  had  perforce  to 
read  the  few  simple  lines  over  and  over  again,  before  she 
could  fully  grasp  their  meaning. 

She  stood  on  the  landing,  turning  over  and  over  in  her 
hand  this  curt  and  mysterious  epistle,  her  mind  a blank, 
her  nerves  strained  with  agitation  and  a presentiment 
she  could  not  very  well  have  explained. 

Sir  Percy  owned  considerable  property  in  the  North, 
certainly,  and  he  had  often  before  gone  there  alone  and 
stayed  away  a week  at  a time ; but  it  seemed  so  very 
strange  that  circumstances  should  have  arisen  between 
five  and  six  o’clock  in  the  morning  that  compelled  him 
to  start  in  this  extreme  hurry. 


FAREWELL 


167 

Vainly  she  tried  to  shake  off  an  unaccustomed  feeling 
of  nervousness : she  was  trembling  from  head  to  foot. 
A wild,  unconquerable  desire  seized  her  to  see  her 
husband  again,  at  once,  if  only  he  had  not  already 
started. 

Forgetting  the  fact  that  she  was  only  very  lightly  clad 
in  a morning  wrap,  and  that  her  hair  lay  loosely  about 
her  shoulders,  she  flew  down  the  stairs,  right  through  the 
hall  towards  the  front  door. 

It  was  as  usual  barred  and  bolted,  for  the  indoor 
servants  were  not  yet  up ; but  her  keen  ears  had 
detected  the  sound  of  voices  and  the  pawing  of  a 
horse’s  hoof  against  the  flag-stones. 

With  nervous,  trembling  fingers  Marguerite  undid  the 
bolts  one  by  one,  bruising  her  hands,  hurting  her  nails, 
for  the  locks  were  heavy  and  stiff.  But  she  did  not 
care ; her  whole  frame  shook  with  anxiety  at  the  very 
thought  that  she  might  be  too  late ; that  he  might  have 
gone  without  her  seeing  him  and  bidding  him  “ God- 
speed ! ” 

At  last,  she  had  turned  the  key  and  thrown  open  the 
door.  Her  ears  had  not  deceived  her.  A groom  was 
standing  close  by  holding  a couple  of  horses ; one  of 
these  was  Sultan,  Sir  Percy’s  favourite  and  swiftest 
horse,  saddled  ready  for  a journey. 

The  next  moment  Sir  Percy  himself  appeared  round 
the  further  corner  of  the  house  and  came  quickly 
towards  the  horses.  He  had  changed  his  gorgeous  ball 
costume,  but  was  as  usual  irreproachably  and  richly 
apparelled  in  a suit  of  fine  cloth,  with  lace  jabot  and 
ruffles,  high  top-boots,  and  riding  breeches. 

Marguerite  went  forward  a few  steps.  He  looked 
up  and  saw  her.  A slight  frown  appeared  between  his 
eyes. 


168  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


“ You  are  going  ? ” she  said  quickly  and  feyerishly. 
“ Whither  ? ” 

“ As  I have  had  the  honour  of  informing  your  ladyship, 
urgent,  most  unexpected  business  calls  me  to  the  North 
this  morning,”  he  said,  in  his  usual  cold,  drawly  manner. 

“ But  . . . your  guests  to-morrow  . . .” 

“ I have  prayed  your  ladyship  to  offer  my  humble 
excuses  to  His  Royal  Highness.  You  are  such  a perfect 
hostess,  I do  not  think  that  I shall  be  missed.” 

“ But  surely  you  might  have  waited  for  your  journey 
. . . until  after  our  water-party  . . she  said,  still 
speaking  quickly  and  nervously.  “ Surely  the  business 
is  not  so  urgent  . . . and  you  said  nothing  about  it — 
just  now.” 

“ My  business,  as  I had  the  honour  to  tell  you, 
Madame,  is  as  unexpected  as  it  is  urgent.  . . . May  I 
therefore  crave  your  permission  to  go.  . . . Can  I do 
aught  for  you  in  town  ? ...  on  my  way  back  ? ” 

“No  . . . no  . . . thanks  . . . nothing.  . . . But 
you  will  be  back  soon  ? ” 

“ Very  soon.” 

“ Before  the  end  of  the  week  ? ” 

“ I cannot  say.” 

He  was  evidently  trying  to  get  away,  whilst  she  was 
straining  every  nerve  to  keep  him  back  for  a moment 
or  two. 

“ Percy,”  she  said,  “ will  you  not  tell  me  why  you  go 
to-day  ? Surely  I,  as  your  wife,  have  the  right  to  know. 
You  have  not  been  called  away  to  the  North.  I know 
it.  There  were  no  letters,  no  couriers  from  there  before 
we  left  for  the  opera  last  night,  and  nothing  was  waiting 
for  you  when  we  returned  from  the  ball.  ...  You  are 
not  going  to  the  North,  1 feel  convinced.  . . • There  is 
some  mystery  . . . and  . . .” 


FAREWELL 


169 


**  Nay,  there  is  no  mystery,  Madame,”  he  replied,  with 
a slight  tone  of  impatience.  “ My  business  has  to  do 
with  Armand  . . . there ! Now,  have  I your  leave  to 
depart  ? ” 

“ With  Armand  ? . . . But  you  will  run  no  danger  ? ” 

“Danger?  I?  . . . Nay,  Madame,  your  solicitude; 
does  me  honour.  As  you  say,  I have  some  influence 
my  intention  is  to  exert  it  before  it  be  too  late.” 

“ Will  you  allow  me  to  thank  you  at  least  ? ” 

“ Nay,  Madame,”  he  said  coldly,  “there  is  no  need  for 
that.  My  life  is  at  your  service,  and  I am  already  more 
than  repaid.” 

“ And  mine  will  be  at  yours,  Sir  Percy,  if  you  will  buv 
accept  it,  in  exchange  for  what  you  do  for  Armand,”  she 
said,  as,  impulsively,  she  stretched  out  both  her  hands 
to  him.  “There!  I will  not  detain  you  ...  my 
thoughts  go  with  you  . . . Farewell ! . . .” 

How  lovely  she  looked  in  this  morning  sunlight,  with 
her  ardent  hair  streaming  around  her  shoulders.  He 
bowed  very  low  and  kissed  her  hand  ; she  felt  the 
burning  kiss  and  her  heart  thrilled  with  joy  and  hope. 

“You  will  come  back?  ” she  said  tenderly. 

“ Very  soon  ! 99  he  replied,  looking  longingly  into  her 
blue  eyes. 

“And  . . . you  will  remember?  . . .**  she  asked,  as 
her  eyes,  in  response  to  his  look,  gave  him  an  infinity  of 
promise. 

“ I will  always  remember,  Madame,  that  you  have 
honoured  me  by  commanding  my  services.” 

The  words  were  cold  and  formal,  but  they  did  not 
chill  her  this  time.  Her  woman’s  heart  had  read  his, 
beneath  the  impassive  mask  his  pride  still  forced  him  to 
wear. 

He  bowed  to  her  again,  then  begged  her  leave  to 


170  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

depart.  She  stood  on  one  side  whilst  he  jumped  on  to 
Sultan’s  back,  then,  as  he  galloped  out  of  the  gates,  she 
waved  him  a final  “ Adieu.” 

A bend  in  the  road  soon  hid  him  from  view ; his 
confidential  groom  had  some  difficulty  in  keeping  pace 
with  him,  for  Sultan  flew  along  in  response  to  his 
master’s  excited  mood.  Marguerite,  with  a sigh  that  was 
almost  a happy  one,  turned  and  went  within.  She  went 
back  to  her  room,  for  suddenly,  like  a tired  child,  she 
felt  quite  sleepy. 

Her  heart  seemed  all  at  once  to  be  in  complete  peace, 
and,  though  it  still  ached  with  undefined  longing,  a 
vague  and  delicious  hope  soothed  it  as  with  a balm. 

She  felt  no  longer  anxious  about  Armand.  The  man 
who  had  just  ridden  away,  bent  on  helping  her  brother, 
inspired  her  with  complete  confidence  in  his  strength 
and  m his  power.  She  marvelled  at  herself  for  having 
ever  looked  upon  him  as  an  inane  fool ; of  course,  that 
was  a mask  worn  to  hide  the  bitter  wound  she  had  dealt 
to  his  faith  and  to  his  love.  His  passion  would  have 
overmastered  him,  and  he  would  not  let  her  see  how 
much  he  still  cared  and  how  deeply  he  suffered. 

But  now  all  would  be  well : she  would  crush  her  own 
pride,  humble  it  before  him,  tell  him  everything,  trust 
him  in  everything ; and  those  happy  days  would  come 
back,  when  they  used  to  wander  off  together  in  the 
forests  of  Fontainebleau,  when  they  spoke  little — for  he 
was  always  a silent  man — but  when  she  felt  that  against 
that  strong  heart  she  would  always  find  rest  and 
happiness. 

The  more  she  thought  of  the  events  of  the  past  night, 
the  less  fear  had  she  of  Chauvelin  and  his  schemes.  He 
had  failed  to  discover  the  identity  of  the  Scarlet  Pim- 
pernel, of  that  she  felt  sure.  Both  Lord  Fancourt  and 


FAREWELL  171 

Chauvelin  himself  had  assured  her  that  no  one  had 
been  in  the  dining-room  at  one  o’clock  except  the 
Frenchman  himself  and  Percy  — Yes!  — Percy!  she 
might  have  asked  him,  had  she  thought  of  it ! 
Anyway,  she  had  no  fears  that  the  unknown  and 
brave  hero  would  fall  in  Chauvelin’s  trap;  his  death 
at  anyrate  would  not  be  at  her  door. 

Armand  certainly  was  still  in  danger,  but  Percy  had 
pledged  his  word  that  Armand  would  be  safe,  and  some- 
how, as  Marguerite  had  seen  him  riding  away,  the 
possibility  that  he  could  fail  in  whatever  he  undertook 
never  even  remotely  crossed  her  mind.  When  Armand 
was  safely  over  in  England  she  would  not  allow  him  to 
go  back  to  France. 

She  felt  almost  happy  now,  and,  drawing  the  curtains 
closely  together  again  to  shut  out  the  piercing  sun,  she 
went  to  bed  at  last,  laid  her  head  upon  the  pillow,  and, 
like  a wearied  child,  soon  fell  into  a peaceful  and 
dreamless  sleep. 


CHAPTER  XVIII 


THE  MYSTERIOUS  DEVICE 

The  day  was  well  advanced  when  Marguerite  woke, 
refreshed  by  her  long  sleep.  Louise  had  brought  her 
some  fresh  milk  and  a dish  of  fruit,  and  she  partook  of 
this  frugal  breakfast  with  hearty  appetite. 

Thoughts  crowded  thick  and  fast  in  her  mind  as  she^ 
munched  her  grapes;  most  of  them  went  galloping 
away  after  the  tall,  erect  figure  of  her  husband,  whom 
she  had  watched  riding  out  of  sight  more  than  five 
hours  ago. 

In  answer  to  her  eager  inquiries,  Louise  brought  back 
the  news  that  the  groom  had  come  home  with  Sultan, 
having  left  Sir  Percy  in  London.  The  groom  thought 
that  his  master  was  about  to  get  on  board  his  schooner, 
which  was  lying  off  just  below  London  Bridge.  Sir 
Percy  had  ridden  thus  far,  had  then  met  Briggs,  the 
skipper  of  the  Day  Dream , and  had  sent  the  groom  back 
to  Richmond  with  Sultan  and  the  empty  saddle. 

This  news  puzzled  Marguerite  more  than  ever.  Where 
could  Sir  Percy  be  going  just  now  in  the  Day  Dream  ? 
On  Armand’s  behalf,  he  had  said.  Well ! Sir  Percy 
had  influential  friends  everywhere.  Perhaps  he  was 
going  to  Greenwich,  or  . . . but  Marguerite  ceased  to 
conjecture ; all  would  be  explained  anon : he  said  that 
he  would  come  back,  and  that  he  would  remember. 

A long,  idle  day  lay  before  Marguerite.  She  was  ex- 
pecting the  visit  of  her  old  school  fellow,  little  Suzanne 
172 


THE  MYSTERIOUS  DEVICE  173 

de  Tournay.  With  all  the  merry  mischief  at  her 
command,  she  had  tendered  her  request  for  Suzanne’s 
company  to  the  Comtesse  in  the  presence  of  the  Prince 
of  Wales  last  night.  His  Royal  Highness  had  loudly 
applauded  the  notion,  and  declared  that  he  would  give 
himself  the  pleasure  of  calling  on  the  two  ladies  in  the 
course  of  the  afternoon.  The  Comtesse  had  not  dared 
to  refuse,  and  then  and  there  was  entrapped  into  a 
promise  to  send  little  Suzanne  to  spend  a long  and 
happy  day  at  Richmond  with  her  friend. 

Marguerite  expected  her  eagerly;  she  longed  for  a 
chat  about  old  schooldays  with  the  child ; she  felt  that 
she  would  prefer  Suzanne’s  company  to  that  of  anyone 
else,  and  together  they  would  roam  through  the  fine  old 
garden  and  rich  deer  park,  or  stroll  along  the  river. 

But  Suzanne  had  not  come  yet,  and  Marguerite  being 
dressed,  prepared  to  go  downstairs.  She  looked  quite  a 
girl  this  morning  in  her  simple  muslin  frock,  with  a 
broad  blue  sash  round  her  slim  waist,  and  the  dainty 
cross-over  fichu  into  which,  at  her  bosom,  she  had  fastened 
a few  late  crimson  roses. 

She  crossed  the  landing  outside  her  own  suite  of 
apartments,  and  stood  still  for  a moment  at  the  head  of 
the  fine  oak  staircase,  which  led  to  the  lower  floor.  On 
her  left  were  her  husband’s  apartments,  a suite  of  rooms 
which  she  practically  never  entered. 

They  consisted  of  bedroom,  dressing  and  reception- 
room,  and, "at  the  extreme  end  of  the  landing,  of  a small 
study,  which,  when  Sir  Percy  did  not  use  it,  was  always 
kept  locked.  His  own  special  and  confidential  valet, 
Frank,  had  charge  of  this  room.  No  one  was  ever 
allowed  to  go  inside.  My  lady  had  never  cared  to  do 
so,  and  the  other  servants  had,  of  course,  not  dared  to 
break  this  hard-and-fast  rule. 


174  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

Marguerite  had  often,  with  that  good-natured  con< 
tempt  which  she  had  recently  adopted  towards  her 
husband,  chaffed  him  about  this  secrecy  which  sur- 
rounded his  private  study.  Laughingly  she  had  always 
declared  that  he  strictly  excluded  all  prying  eyes  from 
his  sanctum  for  fear  they  should  detect  how  very  little 
c*  study  ” went  on  within  its  four  walls : a comfortable 
arm-chair  for  Sir  Percy’s  sweet  slumbers  was,  no  doubt, 
its  most  conspicuous  piece  of  furniture. 

Marguerite  thought  of  all  this  on  this  bright  October 
morning  as  she  glanced  along  the  corridor.  Frank 
was  evidently  busy  with  his  master’s  rooms,  for  most 
of  the  doors  stood  open,  that  of  the  study  amongst 
the  others. 

A sudden,  burning,  childish  curiosity  seized  her  to 
have  a peep  at  Sir  Percy’s  sanctum.  The  restriction,  of 
course,  did  not  apply  to  her,  and  Frank  would,  of 
course,  not  dare  to  oppose  her.  Still,  she  hoped  that 
the  valet  would  be  busy  in  one  of  the  other  rooms, 
that  she  might  have  that  one  quick  peep  in  secret,  and 
unmolested. 

Gently,  on  tip-toe,  she  crossed  the  landing  and,  like 
Blue  Beard’s  wife,  trembling  half  with  excitement  and 
wonder,  she  paused  a moment  on  the  threshold, 
strangely  perturbed  and  irresolute. 

The  door  was  ajar,  and  she  could  not  see  anything 
within.  She  pushed  it  open  tentatively : there  was  no 
sound : Frank  was  evidently  not  there,  and  she  walked 
boldly  in. 

At  once  she  was  struck  by  the  severe  simplicity  of 
everything  around  her : the  dark  and  heavy  hangings, 
the  massive  oak  furniture,  the  one  or  two  maps  on  the 
wall,  in  no  way  recalled  to  her  mind  the  lazy  man  about 
town,  the  lover  of  race-courses,  the  dandified  leader  of 


THE  MYSTERIOUS  DEVICE  175 

fashion,  that  was  the  outward  representation  of  Sir 
Percy  Blakeney. 

There  was  no  sign  here,  at  anyrate,  of  hurried 
departure.  Everything  was  in  its  place,  not  a scrap  of 
paper  littered  the  floor,  not  a cupboard  or  drawer  was 
left  open.  The  curtains  were  drawn  aside,  and 
through  the  open  window  the  fresh  morning  air  was 
streaming  in. 

Facing  the  window,  and  well  into  the  centre  of  the 
room,  stood  a ponderous  business-like  desk,  which 
looked  as  if  it  had  seen  much  service.  On  the  wall 
to  the  left  of  the  desk,  reaching  almost  from  floor 
to  ceiling,  was  a large  full-length  portrait  of  a 
woman,  magnificently  framed,  exquisitely  painted,  and 
signed  with  the  name  of  Boucher.  It  was  Percy’s 
mother. 

Marguerite  knew  very  little  about  her,  except  that 
she  had  died  abroad,  ailing  in  body  as  well  as  in  mind, 
when  Percy  was  still  a lad.  She  must  have  been  a very 
beautiful  woman  once,  when  Boucher  painted  her,  and 
as  Marguerite  looked  at  the  portrait,  she  could  not  but 
be  struck  by  the  extraordinary  resemblance  which  must 
have  existed  between  mother  and  son.  There  was  the 
same  low,  square  forehead,  crowned  with  thick,  fair 
hair,  smooth  and  heavy ; the  same  deep-set,  somewhat 
lazy  blue  eyes,  beneath  firmly  marked,  straight  brows ; 
and  in  those  eyes  there  was  the  same  intensity  behind 
that  apparent  laziness,  the  same  latent  passion  which 
used  to  light  up  Percy’s  face  in  the  olden  days  before 
his  marriage,  and  which  Marguerite  had  again  noted, 
last  night  at  dawn,  when  she  had  come  quite  close  to 
him,  and  had  allowed  a note  of  tenderness  to  creep 
into  her  voice. 

Marguerite  studied  the  portrait,  for  it  interested  her : 


176  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

after  that  she  turned  and  looked  again  at  the  ponderous 
desk.  It  was  covered  with  a mass  of  papers,  all  neatly 
tied  and  docketed,  which  looked  like  accounts  and 
receipts  arrayed  with  perfect  method.  It  had  never 
before  struck  Marguerite — nor  had  she,  alas  ! found  it 
worth  while  to  inquire — as  to  how  Sir  Percy,  whom  all 
the  world  had  credited  with  a total  lack  of  brains,  ad- 
ministered the  vast  fortune  which  his  father  left  had  him. 

Since  she  had  entered  this  neat,  orderly  room,  she 
had  been  taken  so  much  by  surprise,  that  this  obvious 
proof  of  her  husband’s  strong  business  capacities  did 
not  cause  her  more  than  a passing  thought  of  wonder. 
But  it  also  strengthened  her  in  the  now  certain  know- 
ledge that,  with  his  worldly  inanities,  his  foppish  ways, 
and  foolish  talk,  he  was  not  only  wearing  a mask,  but 
was  playing  a deliberate  and  studied  part. 

Marguerite  wondered,  again.  Why  should  he  take  all 
this  trouble?  Why  should  he — who  was  obviously  a 
serious,  earnest  man — wish  to  appear  before  his  fellow- 
men  as  an  empty-headed  nincompoop  ? 

He  may  have  wished  to  hide  his  love  for  a wife  who 
held  him  in  contempt  . . . but  surely  such  an  object 
could  have  been  gained  at  less  sacrifice,  and  with  far 
less  trouble  than  constant  incessant  acting  of  an  un- 
natural part. 

She  looked  round  her  quite  aimlessly  now : she  was 
horribly  puzzled,  and  a nameless  dread,  before  all  this 
strange,  unaccountable  mystery,  had  begun  to  seize 
upon  her.  She  felt  cold  and  uncomfortable  suddenly 
in  this  severe  and  dark  room.  There  were  no  pictures 
on  the  wall,  save  the  fine  Boucher  portrait,  only  a 
couple  of  maps,  both  of  parts  of  France,  one  of  the 
North  coast  and  the  other  of  the  environs  of  Paris. 
What  did  Sir  Percy  want  with  those,  she  wondered. 


THE  MYSTERIOUS  DEVICE  1 77 

Her  head  began  to  ache,  she  turned  away  from  this 
strange  Blue  Beard’s  chamber,  which  she  had  entered, 
and  which  she  did  not  understand.  She  did  not  wish 
Frank  to  find  her  here,  and  with  a last  look  round,  she 
once  more  turned  to  the  door.  As  she  did  so,  her  foot 
knocked  against  a small  object,  which  had  apparently 
been  lying  close  to  the  desk,  on  the  carpet,  and  which 
now  went  rolling,  right  across*  the  room. 

She  stooped  to  pick  it  up.  It  was  a solid  gold 
ring,  with  a flat  shield,  on  which  was  engraved  a small 
device. 

Marguerite  turned  it  over  in  her  fingers,  and  then 
studied  the  engraving  on  the  shield.  It  represented  a 
small  star-shaped  flower,  of  a shape  she  had  seen  so 
distinctly  twice  before  : once  at  the  opera,  and  oecs  at 
Lord  Grenville’s  ball. 


< 


CHAPTER  XiX 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

At  what  particular  moment  the  strange  doubt  first  crept 
into  Marguerite’s  mind,  she  could  not  herself  afterwards 
have  said.  With  the  ring  tightly  clutched  in  her  hand, 
she  had  run  out  of  the  room,  down  the  stairs,  and 
out  into  the  garden,  where,  in  complete  seclusion,  alone 
with  the  flowers,  and  the  river  and  the  birds,  she  could 
look  again  at  the  ring,  and  study  that  device  more 
closely. 

Stupidly,  senselessly,  now,  sitting  beneath  the  shade 
of  ar  overhanging  sycamore,  she  was  looking  at  the 
plain  gold  shield,  with  the  star -shaped  little  flower 
engraved  upon  it. 

Bah  ! It  was  ridiculous  ! she  was  dreaming  1 her 
nerves  were  overwrought,  and  she  saw  signs  and 
mysteries  in  the  most  trivial  coincidences.  Had  not 
everybody  about  town  recently  made  a point  of  affecting 
the  device  of  that  mysterious  and  heroic  Scarlet 
Pimpernel  ? 

Did  she  not  herself  wear  it  embroidered  on  her 
gowns  ? set  in  gems  and  enamel  in  her  hair  ? What 
was  there  strange  in  the  fact  that  Sir  Percy  should  have 
chosen  to  use  the  device  as  a seal-ring?  He  might 
easily  have  done  that  . . . yes  . . . quite  easily  . . , 
and  . . . besides  . . . what  connection  could  there  be 
between  her  exquisite  dandy  of  a husband,  with  his  fine 
clothes  and  refined,  lazy  ways,  and  the  daring  plotte* 
178 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL  179 

who  rescued  French  victims  from  beneath  the  very 
eyes  of  the  leaders  of  a bloodthirsty  revolution  ? 

Her  thoughts  were  in  a whirl — her  mind  a blank  . . . 
She  did  not  see  anything  that  was  going  on  around  her, 
and  was  quite  startled  when  a fresh  young  voice  called 
to  her  across  the  garden. 

“ Chkrie  / — chcrie  l where  are  you  ? ” and  little  Suzanne, 
fresh  as  a rosebud,  with  eyes  dancing  with  glee,  and 
brown  curls  fluttering  in  the  soft  morning  breeze,  came 
running  across  the  lawn. 

“ They  told  me  you  were  in  the  garden,”  she  went  on 
prattling  merrily,  and  throwing  herself  with  pretty,  girlish 
impulse  into  Marguerite’s  arms,  “so  I ran  out  to  give 
you  a surprise.  You  did  not  expect  me  quite  so  soon, 
did  you,  my  darling  little  Margot  cherie  1 ” 

Marguerite,  who  had  hastily  concealed  the  ring  in  the 
folds  of  her  kerchief,  tried  to  respond  gaily  and  un- 
concernedly to  the  young  girl’s  impulsiveness. 

“Indeed,  sweet  one,”  she  said  with  a smile,  “it  is 
delightful  to  have  you  all  to  myself,  and  for  a nice  whole 
long  day.  . . . You  won’t  be  bored  ? ” 

“ Oh  ! bored  ! Margot,  how  can  you  say  such  a wicked 
thing.  Why ! when  we  were  in  the  dear  old  convent 
together,  we  were  always  happy  when  we  were  allowed 
to  be  alone  together.” 

“And  to  talk  secrets.” 

The  two  young  girls  had  linked  their  arms  in  one 
another’s  and  began  wandering  round  the  garden. 

“ Oh ! how  lovely  your  home  is,  Margot,  darling,” 
said  little  Suzanne,  enthusiastically,  “and  how  happy  you 
must  be ! ” 

“Aye,  indeed!  I ought  to  be  happy — oughtn’t  I, 
iweet  one  ? ” said  Marguerite,  with  a wistful  little  sigh. 

“How  sadly  you  say  it,  cherie.  . . . Ah,  well,  I 


1 8©  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


suppose  now  that  you  are  a married  woman  you  won't 
care  to  talk  secrets  with  me  any  longer.  Oh  ! what  lot* 
and  lots  of  secrets  we  used  to  have  at  school ! Do  you 
remember? — some  we  did  not  even  confide  to  Sister 
Theresa  of  the  Holy  Angela — though  she  was  such  a 
dear.” 

“And  now  you  have  one  all-important  secret,  eh,  little 
one  ? ” said  Marguerite,  merrily,  “ which  you  are  forth- 
with going  to  confide  to  me.  Nay,  you  need  not  blush, 
cherie ,”  she  added,  as  she  saw  Suzanne’s  pretty  little 
face  crimson  with  blushes.  “ Faith,  there’s  naught  to 
be  ashamed  of!  He  is  a noble  and  a true  man,  and 
one  to  be  proud  of  as  a lover,  and  ...  as  a husband.” 

“ Indeed,  cherte,  I am  not  ashamed,”  rejoined  Suzanne, 
softly ; “ and  it  makes  me  very,  very  proud  to  hear  you 
speak  so  well  of  him.  I think  maman  will  consent,” 
she  added  thoughtfully,  “and  I shall  be — oh  ! so  happy 
— but,  of  course,  nothing  is  to  be  thought  of  until  papa 
is  safe.  . . .” 

Marguerite  started.  Suzanne’s  father ! the  Comte  de 
Tournay ! — one  of  those  whose  life  would  be  jeopardised 
if  Chauvelin  succeeded  in  establishing  the  identity  of  the 
Scarlet  Pimpernel. 

She  had  understood  all  along  from  the  Comtesse,  and 
also  from  one  or  two  of  the  members  of  the  league,  that 
their  mysterious  leader  had  pledged  his  honour  to  bring 
the  fugitive  Comte  de  Tournay  safely  out  of  France. 
Whilst  little  Suzanne — unconscious  of  all — save  her  own 
all-important  little  secret,  went  prattling  on,  Marguerite’s 
thoughts  went  back  to  the  events  of  the  past  night. 

Armand’s  peril,  Chauvelin’s  threat,  his  cruel  “ Either 
— or — ” which  she  had  accepted. 

And  then  her  own  work  in  the  matter,  which  should 
have  culminated  at  one  o’clock  in  Lord  Grenville’* 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL  181 


dining-room,  when  the  relentless  agent  of  the  French 
Government  would  finally  learn  who  was  this  mysterious 
Scarlet  Pimpernel,  who  so  openly  defied  an  army  of  spies 
and  placed  himself  so  boldly,  and  for  mere  sport,  on  the 
side  of  the  enemies  of  France. 

Since  then  she  had  heard  nothing  from  Chauvelin. 
She  had  concluded  that  he  had  failed,  and  yet,  she  had 
not  felt  anxious  about  Armand,  because  her  husband 
had  promised  her  that  Armand  would  be  safe. 

But  now,  suddenly,  as  Suzanne  prattled  merrily  along, 
an  awful  horror  came  upon  her  for  what  she  had  done. 
Chauvelin  had  told  her  nothing,  it  is  true;  but  she 
remembered  how  sarcastic  and  evil  he  looked  when  she 
took  final  leave  of  him  after  the  ball.  Had  he  discovered 
something  then  ? had  he  already  laid  his  plans  for  catch- 
ing the  daring  plotter,  red-handed,  in  France,  and  sending 
him  to  the  guillotine  without  compunction  or  delay. 

Marguerite  turned  sick  with  horror,  and  her  hand 
convulsively  clutched  the  ring  in  her  dress. 

“You  are  not  listening,  cherie ,”  said  Suzanne,  re- 
proachfully, as  she  paused  in  her  long,  highly  interesting 
narrative. 

“Yes,  yes,  darling — indeed  I am,”  said  Marguerite 
with  an  effort,  forcing  herself  to  smile.  “ I love  to  hear 
you  talking  . . . and  your  happiness  makes  me  so  very 
glad.  . . . Have  no  fear,  we  will  manage  to  propitiate 
maman.  Sir  Andrew  Ffoulkes  is  a noble  English 
gentleman ; he  has  money  and  position,  the  Comtesse 
will  not  refuse  her  consent.  . . . But  . . . now,  little 
one  . . . tell  me  . . . what  is  the  latest  news  about 
your  father  ? ” 

“ Oh ! ” said  Suzanne,  with  mad  glee,  “ the  best  we 
could  possibly  hear.  My  Lord  Hastings  came  to  see 
maman  early  this  morning.  He  said  that  all  is  now  well 


182  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


with  dear  papa,  and  we  may  safely  expect  him  here  in 
England  in  less  than  four  days.” 

“Yes,”  said  Marguerite,  whose  glowing  eyes  were 
fastened  on  Suzanne’s  lips,  as  she  continued  merrily : 

“Oh,  we  have  no  fear  now ! You  don’t  know,  cherie , 
that  that  great  and  noble  Scarlet  Pimpernel  himself,  has 
gone  to  save  papa.  He  has  gone,  cherie  . . . actually 
gone  . . .”  added  Suzanne  excitedly.  “He  was  in 
London  this  morning;  he  will  be  in  Calais,  perhaps, 
to-morrow  . . . where  he  will  meet  papa  . . . and  then 
. . . and  then  . . .” 

The  blow  had  fallen.  She  had  expected  it  all  along, 
though  she  had  tried  for  the  last  half-hour  to  delude 
herself  and  to  cheat  her  fears.  He  had  gone  to  Calais, 
had  been  in  London  this  morning  . . . he  . . . the 
Scarlet  Pimpernel  . . . Percy  Blakeney  . . . her  husband 
. . . whom  she  had  betrayed  last  night  to  Chauvelin.  . . . 

Percy  . . . Percy  . . . her  husband  . . . the  Scarlet 
Pimpernel.  ...  Oh  I how  could  she  have  been  so  blind  ? 
She  understood  it  now — albat  once  . . . that  part  he 
played — the  mask  he  wore  ...  in  order  to  throw  dust 
in  everybody’s  eyes. 

And  all  for  sheer  sport  and  devilry  of  course  ! — saving 
men,  women  and  children  from  death,  as  other  men 
destroy  and  kill  animals  for  the  excitement,  the  love  of 
the  thing.  The  idle,  rich  man  wanted  some  aim  in  life 
— he,  and  the  few  young  bucks  he  enrolled  under  his 
banner,  had  amused  themselves  for  months  in  risking 
their  lives  for  the  sake  of  an  innocent  few. 

Perhaps  he  had  meant  to  tell  her  when  they  were  first 
married ; and  then  the  story  of  the  Marquis  de  St  Cyr 
had  come  to  his  ears,  and  he  had  suddenly  turned  from 
her,  thinking,  no  doubt,  that  she  might  some  day  betray 
him  and  his  comrades,  who  had  sworn  to  follow  him : 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL  183 

and  so  he  had  tricked  her,  as  he  tricked  all  others, 
whilst  hundreds  now  owed  their  lives  to  him,  and  many 
families  owed  him  both  life  and  happiness. 

The  mask  of  the  inane  fop  had  been  a good  one,  and 
the  part  consummately  well  played.  No  wonder  that 
Chauvelin’s  spies  had  failed  to  detect,  in  the  apparently 
brainless  nincompoop,  the  man  whose  reckless  daring 
and  resourceful  ingenuity  had  baffled  the  keenest  French 
spies,  both  in  France  and  in  England.  Even  last  night 
when  Chauvelin  went  to  Lord  Grenville’s  dining-room 
to  seek  that  daring  Scarlet  Pimpernel,  he  only  saw  that 
inane  Sir  Percy  Blakeney  fast  asleep  in  a corner  of  the 
sofa. 

Had  his  astute  mind  guessed  the  secret,  then  ? Here 
lay  the  whole  awful,  horrible,  amazing  puzzle.  In  be- 
traying a nameless  stranger  to  his  fate  in  order  to  save 
her  brother,  had  Marguerite  Blakeney  sent  her  husband 
to  his  death  ? 

No  ! no  ! no ! a thousand  times  no  ! Surely  Fate  could 
not  deal  a blow  like  that:  Nature  itself  would  rise  in 
revolt : her  hand,  when  it  held  that  tiny  scrap  of  paper 
last  night,  would  surely  have  been  struck  numb  ere  it 
committed  a deed  so  appalling  and  so  terrible. 

“ But  what  is  it,  chcrie  f ” said  little  Suzanne,  now 
genuinely  alarmed,  for  Marguerite’s  colour  had  become 
dull  and  ashen.  “ Are  you  ill,  Marguerite  ? What  is 
it?” 

“Nothing,  nothing,  child,”  she  murmured,  as  in  a 
dream.  “Wait  a moment  ...  let  me  think  . . . 
think  ! . . . You  said  . . . the  Scarlet  Pimpernel  had 
gone  to-day.  . . . ? ” 

“ Marguerite,  ckkrie^  what  is  it  ? You  frighten 

__  _ » 

me.  • • . 

14  It  is  nothing,  child,  I tell  you  . . . nothing.  ...  I 


184  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

must  be  alone  a minute — and — dear  one  ...  I may 
have  to  curtail  our  time  together  to-day.  ...  I may 
have  to  go  away — you’ll  understand  ? ” 

“ I understand  that  something  has  happened,  chirit , 
and  that  you  want  to  be  alone.  I won’t  be  a hindrance 
to  you.  Don’t  think  of  me.  My  maid,  Lucile,  has  not 
yet  gone  ...  we  will  go  back  together  . . . don’t  think 
of  me.” 

She  threw  her  arms  impulsively  round  Marguerite. 
Child  as  she  was,  she  felt  the  poignancy  of  her  friend’s 
grief,  and  with  the  infinite  tact  of  her  girlish  tenderness, 
she  did  not  try  to  pry  into  it,  but  was  ready  to  efface 
herself. 

She  kissed  Marguerite  again  and  again,  then  walked 
sadly  back  across  the  lawn.  Marguerite  did  not  move, 
she  remained  there,  thinking  . . . wondering  what  was 
to  be  done. 

Just  as  little  Suzanne  was  about  to  mount  the  terrace 
steps,  a groom  came  running  round  the  house  towards 
his  mistress.  He  carried  a sealed  letter  in  his  hand. 
Suzanne  instinctively  turned  back;  her  heart  told  her 
that  here  perhaps  was  further  ill  news  for  her  friend, 
and  she  felt  that  her  poor  Margot  was  not  in  a fit  state 
to  bear  any  more. 

The  groom  stood  respectfully  beside  his  mistress,  then 
he  handed  her  the  sealed  letter. 

“ What  is  that  ? ” asked  Marguerite. 

“ Just  come  by  runner,  my  lady.” 

Marguerite  took  the  letter  mechanically,  and  turned 
it  over  in  her  trembling  fingers. 

“ Who  sent  it  ? ” she  said. 

“ The  runner  said,  my  lady,”  replied  the  groom,  “ that 
his  orders  were  to  deliver  this,  and  that  your  ladyship 
would  understand  from  whom  it  came.” 


"1 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL  185 

Marguerite  tore  open  the  envelope.  Already  her 
Instinct  had  told  her  what  it  contained,  and  her  eyes 
only  glanced  at  it  mechanically. 

It  was  a letter  written  by  Armand  St  Just  to  Sir 
Andrew  Ffoulkes — the  letter  which  Chauvelin’s  spies  had 
stolen  at  “The  Fisherman’s  Rest,”  and  which  Chauvelin 
had  held  as  a rod  over  her  to  enforce  her  obedience 

Now  he  had  kept  his  word — he  had  sent  her  back  St 
Just’s  compromising  letter  ...  for  he  was  on  the  track 
of  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel. 

Marguerite’s  senses  reeled,  her  very  soul  seemed  to 
be  leaving  her  body ; she  tottered,  and  would  have  fallen 
but  for  Suzanne’s  arm  round  her  waist.  With  super- 
human effort  she  regained  control  over  herself — there 
was  yet  much  to  be  done. 

“Bring  that  runner  here  to  me,”  she  said  to  the 
servant,  with  much  calm.  “ He  has  not  gone  ? ” 

“ No,  my  lady.” 

The  groom  went,  and  Marguerite  turned  to  Suzanne. 

“ And  you,  child,  run  within.  Tell  Lucile  to  get 
ready.  I fear  I must  send  you  home,  child.  And — 
stay,  tell  one  of  the  maids  to  prepare  a travelling  dress 
and  cloak  for  me.” 

Suzanne  made  no  reply.  She  kissed  Marguerite 
tenderly,  and  obeyed  without  a word ; the  child  was  over- 
awed by  the  terrible,  nameless  misery  in  her  friend’s  face. 

A minute  later  the  groom  returned,  followed  by  the 
runner  who  had  brought  the  letter. 

“ Who  gave  you  this  packet  ? ” asked  Marguerite. 

“A  gentleman,  my  lady,”  replied  the  man,  “at  ‘The 
Rose  and  Thistle  ’ inn  opposite  Charing  Cross.  He 
said  you  would  understand.” 

“At  ‘The  Rose  and  Thistle’?  What  was  he 
doing  ? ” 


1 16  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


" He  was  waiting  for  the  coach,  your  ladyship,  which 
he  had  ordered.” 

“ The  coach  ? ” 

“ Yes,  my  lady.  A special  coach  he  had  ordered.  1 
understood  from  his  man  that  he  was  posting  straight  to 
Dover.” 

“ That’s  enough.  You  may  go.”  Then  she  turned 
to  the  groom : “ My  coach  and  the  four  swiftest  horse3 
in  the  stables,  to  be  ready  at  once.” 

The  groom  and  runner  both  went  quickly  off  to  obey. 
Marguerite  remained  standing  for  a moment  on  the  lawn 
quite  alone.  Her  graceful  figure  was  as  rigid  as  a statue, 
her  eyes  were  fixed,  her  hands  were  tightly  clasped 
across  her  breast ; her  lips  moved  as  they  murmured 
with  pathetic  heart-breaking  persistence, — 

“ What’s  to  be  done  ? What’s  to  be  done  ? Where 
to  find  him  ? — Oh,  God  ! grant  me  light.” 

But  this  was  not  the  moment  for  remorse  and  despair. 

She  had  done — unwittingly — an  awful  and  terrible 
thing — the  very  worst  crime,  in  her  eyes,  that  woman 
ever  committed — she  saw  it  in  all  its  horror.  Her  very 
blindness  in  not  having  guessed  her  husband’s  secret 
seemed  now  to  her  another  deadly  sin.  She  ought  to 
have  known  ! she  ought  to  have  known  ! 

How  could  she  imagine  that  a man  who  could  love 
with  so  much  intensity  as  Percy  Blakeney  had  loved  her 
from  the  first  ? — how  could  such  a man  be  the  brainless 
idiot  he  chose  to  appear  ? She,  at  least,  ought  to  have 
known  that  he  was  wearing  a mask,  and  having  found 
that  out,  she  should  have  torn  it  from  his  face,  whenever 
they  were  alone  together. 

Her  love  for  him  had  been  paltry  and  weak,  easily 
crushed  by  her  own  pride;  and  she,  too,  had  worn  a 
mask  in  assuming  a contempt  for  him,  whilst,  as  a matter 
©f  fact,  she  completely  misunderstood  him. 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL  187 

But  there  was  no  time  now  to  go  over  the  past.  By 
her  own  blindness  she  had  sinned ; now  she  must  repay, 
not  by  empty  remoise,  but  by  prompt  and  useful  action. 

Percy  had  started  for  Calais,  utterly  unconscious  of  the 
fact  that  his  most  relentless  enemy  was  on  his  heels. 
He  had  set  sail  early  that  morning  from  London  Bridge. 
Provided  he  had  a favourable  wind,  he  would  no  doubt 
be  in  France  within  twenty-four  hours;  no  doubt  he  had 
reckoned  on  the  wind  and  chosen  this  route. 

Chauvelin,  on  the  other  hand,  would  post  to  Dover, 
charter  a vessel  there,  and  undoubtedly  reach  Calais 
much  about  the  same  time.  Once  in  Calais,  Percy  would 
meet  all  those  who  were  eagerly  waiting  for  the  noble 
and  brave  Scarlet  Pimpernel,  who  had  come  to  rescue 
them  from  horrible  and  unmerited  death.  With  Chau- 
velin’s  eyes  now  fixed  upon  his  every  movement,  Percy 
would  thus  not  only  be  endangering  his  own  life,  but 
that  of  Suzanne’s  father,  the  old  Comte  de  Tournay,  and 
of  those  other  fugitives  who  were  waiting  for  him  and 
trusting  in  him.  There  was  also  Armand,  who  had  gone 
to  meet  de  Tournay,  secure  in  the  knowledge  that  the 
Scarlet  Pimpernel  was  watching  over  his  safety. 

All  these  lives  and  that  of  her  husband,  lay  in 
Marguerite’s  hands ; these  she  must  save,  if  human 
pluck  and  ingenuity  were  equal  to  the  task. 

Unfortunately,  she  could  not  do  all  this  quite  alone. 
Once  in  Calais  she  would  not  know  where  to  find  her 
husband,  whilst  Chauvelin,  in  stealing  the  papers  at 
Dover,  had  obtained  the  whole  itinerary.  Above  every- 
thing, she  wished  to  warn  Percy. 

She  knew  enough  about  him  by  now  to  understand 
that  he  would  never  abandon  those  who  trusted  in  him, 
that  he  would  not  turn  back  from  danger,  and  leave  the 
Comte  de  Tournay  to  fall  into  the  bloodthirsty  hands 
that  knew  of  no  mercy.  But  if  he  were  warned,  he  might 


188  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


form  new  plans,  be  more  wary,  more  prudent.  Un- 
consciously, he  might  fall  into  a cunning  trap,  but — once 
warned — he  might  yet  succeed. 

And  if  he  failed — if  indeed  Fate,  and  Chauvelin,  with 
all  the  resources  at  his  command,  proved  too  strong  for 
the  daring  plotter  after  all — then  at  least  she  would  be 
there  by  his  side,  to  comfort,  love  and  cherish,  to  cheat 
death  perhaps  at  the  last  by  making  it  seem  sweet,  if 
they  died  both  together,  locked  in  each  others  arms, 
with  the  supreme  happiness  of  knowing  that  passion  had 
responded  to  passion,  and  that  all  misunderstandings 
were  at  an  end. 

Her  whole  body  stiffened  as  with  a great  and  firm 
resolution.  This  she  meant  to  do,  if  God  gave  her  wits 
and  strength.  Her  eyes  lost  their  fixed  look ; they 
glowed  with  inward  fire  at  the  thought  of  meeting  him 
again  so  soon,  in  the  very  midst  of  most  deadly  perils  ; 
they  sparkled  with  the  joy  of  sharing  these  dangers  with 
him — of  helping  him  perhaps — of  being  with  him  at  the 
last — if  she  failed. 

The  childlike  sweet  face  had  become  hard  and  set, 
the  curved  mouth  was  closed  tightly  over  her  clenched 
teeth.  She  meant  to  do  or  die,  with  him  and  for  his 
sake.  A frown,  which  spoke  of  an  iron  will  and  unbend- 
ing resolution,  appeared  between  the  two  straight  brows ; 
already  her  plans  were  formed.  She  would  go  and  find 
Sir  Andrew  Ffoulkes  first;  he  was  Percy’s  best  friend, 
and  Marguerite  remembered  with  a thrill,  with  what 
blind  enthusiasm  the  young  man  always  spoke  of  his 
mysterious  leader. 

He  would  help  her  where  she  needed  help ; her  coach 
was  ready.  A change  of  raiment,  and  a farewell  to  little 
Suzanne,  and  she  could  be  on  her  way. 

Without  haste,  but  without  hesitation,  she  walked 
quietly  into  the  house. 


CHAPTER  XX 


THE  FRIEND 

Less  than  half  an  hour  later,  Marguerite,  buried  in 
thoughts,  sat  inside  her  coach,  which  was  bearing  her 
swiftly  to  London. 

She  had  taken  an  affectionate  farewell  of  little 
Suzanne,  and  seen  the  child  safely  started  with  her 
maid,  and  in  her  own  coach,  back  to  town.  She  had 
sent  one  courier  with  a respectful  letter  of  excuse  to  His 
Royal  Highness,  begging  for  a postponement  of  the 
august  visit  on  account  of  pressing  and  urgent  business, 
and  another  on  ahead  to  bespeak  a fresh  relay  of  horses 
at  Faversham. 

Then  she  had  changed  her  muslin  frock  for  a dark 
travelling  costume  and  mantle,  had  provided  herself 
with  money — which  her  husband’s  lavishness  always 
placed  fully  at  her  disposal — and  had  started  on  her 
way. 

She  did  not  attempt  to  delude  herself  with  any  vain 
and  futile  hopes ; the  safety  of  her  brother  Armand  was 
to  have  been  conditional  on  the  imminent  capture  of  the 
Scarlet  Pimpernel.  As  Chauvelin  had  sent  her  back 
Armand’s  compromising  letter,  there  was  no  doubt  that 
he  was  quite  satisfied  in  his  own  mind  that  Percy 
Blakeney  was  the  man,  whose  death  he  had  sworn  to 
bring  about. 

No ! there  was  no  room  for  any  fond  delusions ! 
Percy,  the  husband  whom  she  loved  with  all  the  ardour 
which  her  admiration  for  his  bravery  had  kindled,  wai 
i8g 


190  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

in  immediate,  deadly  peril,  through  her  hand.  She  had 
betrayed  him  to  his  enemy — unwittingly  ’tis  true — but 
she  had  betrayed  him,  and  if  Chauvelin  succeeded  in 
trapping  him,  who  so  far  was  unaware  of  his  danger, 
then  his  death  would  be  at  her  door.  His  death  ! when 
with  her  very  heart’s  blood,  she  would  have  defended 
him  and  given  willingly  her  life  for  his. 

She  had  ordered  her  coach  to  drive  her  to  the 
“ Crown  ” inn ; once  there,  she  told  her  coachman  to 
give  the  horses  food  and  rest.  Then  she  ordered  a 
chair,  and  had  herself  carried  to  the  house  in  Pall  Mall 
where  Sir  Andrew  Ffoulkes  lived. 

Among  all  Percy’s  friends,  who  were  enrolled  under 
his  daring  banner,  she  felt  that  she  would  prefer  to 
confide  in  Sir  Andrew  Ffoulkes.  He  had  always  been 
her  friend,  and  now  his  love  for  little  Suzanne  had 
brought  him  closer  to  her  still.  Had  he  been  away 
from  home,  gone  on  the  mad  errand  with  Percy,  per- 
haps, then  she  would  have  called  on  Lord  Hastings  or 
Lord  Tony — for  she  wanted  the  help  of  one  of  these 
young  men,  or  she  would  be  indeed  powerless  to  save 
her  husband. 

Sir  Andrew  Ffoulkes,  however,  was  at  home,  and  his 
servant  introduced  her  ladyship  immediately.  She  went 
upstairs  to  the  young  man’s  comfortable  bachelor’s 
chambers,  and  was  shown  into  a small,  though  luxuri- 
ously furnished,  dining-room.  A moment  or  two  later 
Sir  Andrew  himself  appeared. 

He  had  evidently  been  much  startled  when  he  heard 
who  his  lady  visitor  was,  for  he  looked  anxiously — even 
suspiciously  — at  Marguerite,  whilst  performing  the 
elaborate  bows  before  her,  which  the  rigid  etiquette 
of  the  time  demanded. 

Marguerite  had  laid  aside  every  vestige  of  nervous- 


THE  FRIEND 


191 

nes® ; she  was  perfectly  calm,  and  having  returned 
the  young  man’s  elaborate  salute,  she  began  very 
calmly, — 

“ Sir  Andrew,  I have  no  desire  to  waste  valuable  time 
in  much  talk.  You  must  take  certain  things  I am  going 
to  tell  you  for  granted.  These  will  be  of  no  importance. 
What  is  important  is,  that  your  leader  and  comrade,  the 
Scarlet  Pimpernel  . . . my  husband  . . . Percy  Blakeney 
. . . is  in  deadly  peril.” 

Had  she  had  the  remotest  doubt  of  the  correctness 
of  her  deductions,  she  would  have  had  them  confirmed 
now,  for  Sir  Andrew,  completely  taken  by  surprise,  had 
grown  very  pale,  and  was  quite  incapable  of  making 
the  slightest  attempt  at  clever  parrying. 

“ No  matter  how  I know  this,  Sir  Andrew,”  she  con- 
tinued quietly ; “ thank  God  that  I do,  and  that  perhaps 
it  is  not  too  late  to  save  him.  Unfortunately,  I cannot 
do  this  quite  alone,  and  therefore  have  come  to  you  for 
help.” 

“ Lady  Blakeney,”  said  the  young  man,  trying  to 
recover  himself,  “I  . . .” 

“ Will  you  hear  me  first?”  she  interrupted,  “this  is  how 
the  matter  stands.  When  the  agent  of  the  French 
Government  stole  your  papers  that  night  in  Dover,  he 
found  amongst  them  certain  plans,  which  you  or  your 
leader  meant  to  carry  out  for  the  rescue  of  the  Comte 
de  Tournay  and  others.  The  Scarlet  Pimpernel — Percy, 
my  husband — has  gone  on  this  errand  himself  to-day. 
Chauvelin  knows  that  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel  and  Percy 
Blakeney  are  one  and  the  same  person.  He  will  follow 
him  to  Calais,  and  there  will  lay  hands  on  him.  You 
know  as  well  as  I do  the  fate  that  awaits  him  at  the 
hands  of  the  Revolutionary  Government  of  France.  No 
interference  from  England — from  King  George  himself — 


192  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

would  save  him.  Robespierre  and  his  gang  would  see 
to  it  that  the  interference  came  too  late.  But  not  only 
that,  the  much-trusted  leader  will  also  have  been 
unconsciously  the  means  of  revealing  the  hiding-place 
of  the  Comte  de  Tournay  and  of  all  those  who,  even  now, 
are  placing  their  hopes  in  him.” 

She  had  spoken  quietly,  dispassionately,  and  with 
firm,  unbending  resolution.  Her  purpose  was  to  make 
that  young  man  trust  and  help  her,  for  she  could  do 
nothing  without  him. 

“I  do  not  understand,”  he  repeated,  trying  to  gain 
time,  to  think  what  was  best  to  be  done. 

“Aye!  but  I think  you  do,  Sir  Andrew.  You  must 
know  that  I am  speaking  the  truth.  Look  these  facts 
straight  in  the  face.  Percy  has  sailed  for  Calais,  I 
presume  for  some  lonely  part  of  the  coast,  and  Chauvelin 
is  on  his  track.  Ht  has  posted  for  Dover,  and  will 
cross  the  Channel  probably  to-night.  What  do  you 
think  will  happen  ? ” 

The  young  man  was  silent. 

“ Percy  will  arrive  at  his  destination  : unconscious  o f 
being  followed  he  will  seek  out  de  Tournay  and  the 
others — among  these  is  Armand  St  Just,  my  brother — 
he  will  seek  them  out,  one  after  another,  probably,  not 
knowing  that  the  sharpest  eyes  in  the  world  are  watching 
his  every  movement.  When  he  has  thus  unconsciously 
betrayed  those  who  blindly  trust  in  him,  when  nothing 
can  be  gained  from  him,  and  he  is  ready  to  come  back 
to  England,  with  those  whom  he  has  gone  so  bravely  to 
save,  the  doors  of  the  trap  will  close  upon  him,  and  he 
will  be  sent  to  end  his  noble  life  upon  the  guillotine.” 

Still  Sir  Andrew  was  silent. 

“You  do  not  trust  me,”  she  said  passionately.  “Oh, 
God!  cannot  you  sec  that  1 am  in  deadly  earnest? 


THE  FRIEND 


193 


Man,  man,”  she  added,  while,  with  her  tiny  hands  she 
seized  the  young  man  suddenly  by  the  shoulders,  forcing 
him  to  look  straight  at  her,  “ tell  me,  do  I look  like  that 
vilest  thing  on  earth — a woman  who  would  betray  her 
own  husband  ? ” 

“God  forbid,  Lady  Blakeney,”  said  the  young  man 
at  last,  “that  I should  attribute  such  evil  motives  to  you, 
but  . . 

“But  what?  . . . tell  me.  . . . Quick,  man!  . . . 
the  very  seconds  are  precious ! ” 

“Will  you  tell  me,”  he  asked  resolutely,  and  looking 
searchingly  into  her  blue  eyes,  “ whose  hand  helped  to 
guide  M.  Chauvelin  to  the  knowledge  which  you  say  he 
possesses  ? ” 

“ Mine,”  she  said  quietly,  “ I own  it — I will  not  lie  to 
you,  for  I wish  you  to  trust  me  absolutely.  But  I had 
no  idea — how  could  I have  ? — of  the  identity  of  the  Scarlet 
Pimpernel  . . . and  my  brother’s  safety  was  to  be  my 
prize  if  I succeeded.” 

“ In  helping  Chauvelin  to  track  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel?” 

She  nodded. 

“It  is  no  use  telling  you  how  he  forced  my  hand. 
Armand  is  more  than  a brother  to  me,  and  . . . and 
. . . how  could  I guess?  . . . But  we  waste  time, 
Sir  Andrew  . . . every  second  is  precious  ...  in  the 
name  of  God!  . . my  husband  is  in  peril  . . . your 
friend! — your  comrade! — Help  me  to  save  him.” 

Sir  Andrew  felt  his  position  to  be  a very  awkward 
one.  The  oath  he  had  taken  before  his  leader  and 
comrade  was  one  of  obedience  and  secrecy;  and  yet 
the  beautiful  woman,  who  was  asking  him  to  trust  her, 
was  undoubtedly  in  earnest ; his  friend  and  leader  was 
equally  undoubtedly  in  imminent  danger  and  . . . 

“ Lady  Blakeney,”  he  said  at  last,  “ God  knows  you 


194  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

have  perplexed  me,  so  that  I do  not  know  which  way 
my  duty  lies.  Tell  me  what  you  wish  me  to  do.  There 
are  nineteen  of  us  ready  to  lay  down  our  lives  for  the 
Scarlet  Pimpernel  if  he  is  in  danger.” 

“There  is  no  need  for  lives  just  now,  my  friend,”  she 
said  drily;  “my  wits  and  four  swift  horses  will  serve 
the  necessary  purpose.  But  I must  know  where  to  find 
him.  See,”  she  added,  while  her  eyes  filled  with  tears, 
“ I have  humbled  myself  before  you,  I have  owned  my 
fault  to  you ; shall  I also  confess  my  weakness  ? — My 
husband  and  I have  been  estranged,  because  he  dicLnot 
trust  me,  and  because  I was  too  blind  to  understand. 
You  must  confess  that  the  bandage  which  he  put  over 
my  eyes  was  a very  thick  one.  Is  it  small  wonder  that 
I did  not  see  through  it?  But  last  night,  after  I led 
him  unwittingly  into  such  deadly  peril,  it  suddenly  fell 
from  my  eyes.  If  you  will  not  help  me,  Sir  Andrew,  I 
would  still  strive  to  save  my  husband,  I would  still  exert 
every  faculty  I possess  for  his  sake;  but  I might  be 
powerless,  for  I might  arrive  too  late,  and  nothing  would 
be  left  for  you  but  lifelong  remorse,  and  . . . and  . . . 
for  me,  a broken  heart” 

“ But,  Lady  Blakeney,”  said  the  young  man,  touched 
by  the  gentle  earnestness  of  this  exquisitely  beautiful 
woman,  “ do  you  know  that  what  you  propose  doing  is 
man’s  work? — you  cannot  possibly  journey  to  Calais 
alone.  You  would  be  running  the  greatest  possible 
risks  to  yourself,  and  your  chances  of  finding  your 
husband  now — were  I to  direct  you  ever  so  carefully — 
are  infinitely  remote.” 

“ Oh,  I hope  there  are  risks ! ” she  murmured  softly. 
“ I hope  there  are  dangers,  too ! — I have  so  much  to 
atone  for.  But  I fear  you  are  mistaken.  Chauvelin’s 
eyes  are  fixed  upon  you  all  he  will  scarce  notice  me. 


THE  FRIEND 


195 


Quick,  Sir  Andrew ! — the  coach  is  ready,  and  there  is 
not  a moment  to  be  lost.  ...  I must  get  to  him  ! I 
must!”  she  repeated  with  almost  savage  energy,  “to 
warn  him  that  that  man  is  on  his  track.  . . . Can’t 
you  see — can’t  you  see,  that  I must  get  to  him  . . . 
even  . . . even  if  it  be  too  late  to  save  him  ...  at 
least  . . „ to  be  by  his  side  ...  at  the  last.” 

“Faith,  Madame,  you  must  command  me.  Gladly 
would  I or  any  of  my  comrades  lay  down  our  lives  for 
your  husband.  If  you  will  go  yourself  . . .” 

“Nay,  friend,  do  you  not  see  that  I would  go  mad  if 
I let  you  go  without  me.”  She  stretched  out  her  hand 
to  him.  “You  will  trust  me  ? ” 

“ I await  your  orders,”  he  said  simply. 

“Listen,  then.  My  coach  is  ready  to  take  me  to 
Dover.  Do  you  follow  me,  as  swiftly  as  horses  will  take 
you.  We  meet  at  nightfall  at  ‘ The  Fisherman’s  Rest.’ 
Chauvelin  would  avoid  it,  as  he  is  known  there,  and  I 
think  it  would  be  the  safest.  I will  gladly  accept  your 
escort  to  Calais  ...  as  you  say,  I might  miss  Sir  Percy 
were  you  to  direct  me  ever  so  carefully.  We’ll  charter 
a schooner  at  Dover  and  cross  over  during  the  night. 
Disguised,  if  you  will  agree  to  it,  as  my  lacquey,  you  will, 
I think,  escape  detection.” 

“ I am  entirely  at  your  service,  Madame,”  rejoined  the 
young  man  earnestly.  “I  trust  to  God  that  you  will 
sight  the  Day  Dream  before  we  reach  Calais.  With 
Chauvelin  at  his  heels,  every  step  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel 
takes  on  French  soil  is  fraught  with  danger.” 

“ God  grant  it,  Sir  Andrew.  But  now,  farewell.  We 
meet  to-night  at  Dover  1 It  will  be  a race  between 
Chauvelin  and  me  across  the  Channel  to-night — and  the 
prize — the  life  of  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel.” 

He  kissed  her  hand,  and  then  escorted  her  to  her 


196  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

chair.  A quarter  of  an  hour  later  she  was  back  at  the 
M Crown  ” inn,  where  her  coach  and  horses  were  ready 
and  waiting  for  her.  The  next  moment  they  thundered 
along  the  London  streets,  and  then  straight  on  to  the 
Dover  road  at  maddening  speed. 

She  had  no  time  for  despair  now.  She  was  up  and 
doing  and  had  no  leisure  to  think.  With  Sir  Andrew 
Ffoulkes  as  her  companion  and  ally,  hope  had  once 
again  revived  in  her  heart. 

God  would  be  merciful.  He  would  not  allow  so 
appalling  a crime  to  be  committed,  as  the  death  of  a 
brave  man,  through  the  hand  of  a woman  who^loved 
him,  and  worshipped  him,  and  who  would  gladly  have 
died  for  his  sake. 

Marguerite's  thoughts  flew  back  to  him,  the  mysterious 
hero,  whom  she  had  always  unconsciously  loved,  when 
his  identity  was  still  unknown  to  her.  Laughingly,  in 
the  olden  days,  she  used  to  call  him  the  shadowy  king 
of  her  heart,  and  now  she  had  suddenly  found  that  this 
enigmatic  personality  whom  she  had  worshipped,  and 
the  man  who  loved  her  so  passionately,  were  one  and 
the  same:  what  wonder  that  one  or  two  happier  Visions 
began  to  force  their  way  before  her  mind  ? She  vaguely 
wondered  what  she  would  say  to  him  when  first  they 
would  stand  face  to  face. 

She  had  had  so  many  anxieties,  so  much  excitement 
during  the  past  few  hours,  that  she  allowed  herself  the 
luxury  of  nursing  these  few  more  hopeful,  brighter 
thoughis.  Gradually  the  rumble  of  the  coach  wheels, 
with  its  incessant  monotony,  acted  soothingly  on  her 
nerves:  her  eyes,  aching  with  fatigue  and  many  shed 
and  unshed  tears,  closed  involuntarily,  and  she  fell  into 
a troubled  sleep. 


CHAPTER  XXI 


SUSPENSE 

It  was  late  into  the  night  when  she  at  last  reached  *'  The 
Fisherman’s  Rest.”  She  had  done  the  whole  journey  in 
less  than  eight  hours,  thanks  to  innumerable  changes  of 
horses  at  the  various  coaching  stations,  for  which  she 
always  paid  lavishly,  thus  obtaining  the  very  best  and 
swiftest  that  could  be  had. 

Her  coachman,  too,  had  been  indefatigable;  the  promise 
of  special  and  rich  reward  had  no  doubt  helped  to  keep 
him  up,  and  he  had  literally  burned  the  ground  beneath 
his  mistress’  coach  wheels. 

The  arrival  of  Lady  Blakeney  in  the  middle  of  the 
night  caused  a considerable  flutter  at  “ The  Fisherman’s 
Rest.”  Sally  jumped  hastily  out  of  bed,  and  Mr  Jelly- 
band  was  at  great  pains  how  to  make  his  important  guest 
comfortable. 

Both  these  good  folk  were  far  too  well  drilled  in  the 
manners  appertaining  to  innkeepers,  to  exhibit  the  slightest 
surprise  at  Lady  Blakeney’s  arrival,  alone,  at  this  extra- 
ordinary hour.  No  doubt  they  thought  all  the  more, 
but  Marguerite  was  far  too  absorbed  in  the  importance 
— the  deadly  earnestness — of  her  journey,  to  stop  and 
ponder  over  trifles  of  that  sort. 

The  cpffee-room — the  scene  lately  of  the  dastardly 
outrage  on  two  English  gentlemen — was  quite  deserted. 
Mr  Jellyband  hastily  relit  the  lamp,  rekindled  a cheerful 
*97 


198  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

bit  of  fire  in  the  great  hearth,  and  then  wheeled  a 
comfortable  chair  by  it,  into  which  Marguerite  gratefully 
sank. 

“Will  your  ladyship  stay  the  night?”  asked  pretty 
Miss  Sally,  who  was  already  busy  laying  a snow-white 
cloth  on  the  table,  preparatory  to  providing  a simple 
supper  for  her  ladyship. 

“ No ! not  the  whole  night,”  replied  Marguerite.  “ At 
anyrate,  I shall  not  want  any  room  but  this,  if  I can 
have  it  to  myself  for  an  hour  or  two.” 

“It  is  at  your  ladyship’s  service,”  said  honest  Jelly- 
band,  whose  rubicund  face  was  set  in  its  tightest  folds, 
lest  it  should  betray  before  “ the  quality  ” that  boundless 
astonishment  which  the  worthy  fellow  had  begun  to  feel. 

“I  shall  be  crossing  over  at  the  first  turn  of  the  tide,” 
said  Marguerite,  “and  in  the  first  schooner  I can  get. 
But  my  coachman  and  men  will  stay  the  night,  and  pro- 
bably several  days  longer,  so  I hope  you  will  make  them 
comfortable.” 

“ Yes,  my  lady ; I’ll  look  after  them.  Shall  Sally  bring 
your  ladyship  some  supper  ? ” 

“ Yes,  please.  Put  something  cold  on  the  table,  and 
as  soon  as  Sir  Andrew  Ffoulkes  comes,  show  him  in 
here.” 

“ Yes,  my  lady.” 

Honest  Jellyband’s  face  now  expressed  distress  in 
spite  of  himself.  He  had  great  regard  for  Sir  Percy 
Blakeney,  and  did  not  like  to  see  his  lady  running  away 
with  young  Sir  Andrew.  Of  course,  it  was  no  business 
of  his,  and  Mr  Jellyband  was  no  gossip.  Still,  in  his 
heart,  he  recollected  that  her  ladyship  was  after  all  only 
one  of  them  “ furriners  what  wonder  that  she  was  im- 
moral like  the  rest  of  them  ? ” 

“Don’t  sit  up,  honest  Jellyband,”  continued  Marguerite, 


SUSPENSE 


199 

kindly,  "nor  you  either,  Mistress  Sally.  Sir  Andrew 
may  be  late/ 

Jellyband  was  only  too  willing  that  Sally  should  go  to 
bed.  He  was  beginning  not  to  like  these  goings-on  at 
all.  Still,  Lady  Blakeney  would  pay  handsomely  for  the 
accommodation,  and  it  certainly  was  no  business  of  his. 

Sally  arranged  a simple  supper  of  cold  meat,  wine,  and 
fruit,  on  the  table,  then  with  a respectful  curtsey,  she  retired, 
wondering  in  her  little  mind  why  her  ladyship  looked  so 
serious,  when  she  was  about  to  elope  with  her  gallant. 

Then  commenced  a period  of  weary  waiting  for  Mar- 
guerite. She  knew  that  Sir  Andrew — who  would  have 
to  provide  himself  with  clothes  befitting  a lacquey — 
could  not  possibly  reach  Dover  for  at  least  a couple  of 
hours.  He  was  a splendid  horseman  of  course,  and 
would  make  light  in  such  an  emergency  of  the  seventy 
odd  miles  between  London  and  Dover.  He  would,  too, 
literally  burn  the  ground  beneath  his  horse’s  hoofs,  but 
he  might  not  always  get  very  good  remounts,  and  in  any 
case,  he  could  not  have  started  from  London  until  at 
least  an  hour  after  she  did. 

She  had  seen  nothing  of  Chauvelin  on  the  road.  Her 
coachman,  whom  she  questioned,  had  not  seen  anyone 
answering  the  description  his  mistress  gave  him,  of  the 
wizened  figure  of  the  little  Frenchman. 

Evidently,  therefore,  he  had  been  ahead  of  her  all  the 
time.  She  had  not  dared  to  question  the  people  at  the 
various  inns,  where  they  had  stopped  to  change  horses. 
She  feared  that  Chauvelin  had  spies  all  along  the  route, 
who  might  overhear  her  questions,  then  outdistance  her 
and  warn  her  enemy  of  her  approach. 

Now  she  wondered  at  what  inn  he  might  be  stopping, 
or  whether  he  had  had  the  good  luck  of  chartering  a 
vessel  already,  and  was  now  himself  on  the  way  to 


200  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


France.  That  thought  gripped  her  at  the  heart  as  with 
an  iron  vice.  If  indeed  she  should  be  too  late  already ! 

The  loneliness  of  the  room  overwhelmed  her ; every- 
thing within  was  so  horribly  still ; the  ticking  of  the 
grandfather’s  clock — dreadfully  slow  and  measured — was 
the  only  sound  which  broke  this  awful  loneliness. 

Marguerite  had  need  of  all  her  energy,  all  her  stead- 
fastness of  purpose,  to  keep  up  her  courage  through  this 
weary  midnight  waiting. 

Everyone  else  in  the  house  but  herself  must  have  been 
asleep.  She  had  heard  Sally  go  upstairs.  Mr  Jellyband 
had  gone  to  see  to  her  coachman  and  men,  and  then  had 
returned  and  taken  up  a position  under  the  porch  outside, 
just  where  Marguerite  had  first  met  Chauvelin  about  a 
week  ago.  He  evidently  meant  to  wait  up  for  Sir 
Andrew  Ffoulkes,  but  was  soon  overcome  by  sweet 
slumbers,  for  presently — in  addition  to  the  slow  ticking 
of  the  clock — Marguerite  could  hear  the  monotonous  and 
dulcet  tones  of  the  worthy  fellow’s  breathing. 

For  sometime  now,  she  had  realised  that  the  beautiful 
warm  October’s  day,  so  happily  begun,  bad  turned  into 
a rough  and  cold  night.  She  had  felt  very  chilly,  and 
was  glad  of  the  cheerful  blaze  in  the  hearth : but 
gradually,  as  time  wore  on,  the  weather  became  more 
rough,  and  the  sound  of  the  great  breakers  against  the 
Admiralty  Pier,  though  some  distance  from  the  inn, 
came  to  her  as  the  noise  of  muffled  thunder. 

Hie  wind  was  becoming  boisterous,  rattling  the  leaded 
windows  and  the  massive  doors  of  the  old-fashioned 
house  : it  shook  the  trees  outside  and  roared  down  the 
vast  chimney.  Marguerite  wondered  if  the  wind  would 
be  favourable  for  her  journey.  She  had  no  fear  of  the 
storm,  and  would  have  braved  worse  risks  sooner  than 
delay  the  crossing  by  an  hour. 


SUSPENSE 


201 


A sudden  commotion  outside  roused  her  from  her 
meditations.  Evidently  it  was  Sir  Andrew  Ffoulkes, 
just  arrived  in  mad  haste,  for  she  heard  his  horse's 
hoofs  thundering  on  the  flag -stones  outside,  then 
Mr  Jellyband’s  sleepy,  yet  cheerful  tones  bidding  him 
welcome. 

For  a moment,  then,  the  awkwardness  of  her  positior 
struck  Marguerite ; alone  at  this  hour,  in  a place  where 
she  was  well  known,  and  having  made  an  assignation 
with  a young  cavalier  equally  well  known,  and  who 
arrives  in  disguise  1 What  food  for  gossip  to  those 
mischievously  inclined. 

The  idea  struck  Marguerite  chiefly  from  its  humorous 
side:  there  was  such  quaint  contrast  between  the 
seriousness  of  her  errand,  and  the  construction  which 
would  naturally  be  put  on  her  actions  by  honest  Mr 
Jellyband,  that,  for  the  first  time  since  many  hours,  a 
little  smile  b^gan  playing  round  the  corners  of  her 
childlike  mourn,  and  when,  presently,  Sir  Andrew,  almost 
unrecognisable  in  his  lacquey-like  garb,  entered  the 
coffee-room,  she  was  able  to  greet  him  with  quite  a 
merry  laugh. 

“ Faith  ! Monsieur,  my  lacquey,”  she  said,  “ I am 
satisfied  with  your  appearance  ! ” 

Mr  Jellyband  had  followed  Sir  Andrew,  looking 
strangely  perplexed.  The  young  gallant’s  disguise  had 
confirmed  his  worst  suspicions.  Without  a smile  upon 
his  jovial  face,  he  drew  the  cork  from  the  bottle  of  wine, 
set  the  chairs  ready,  and  prepared  to  wait. 

“Thanks,  honest  friend,”  said  Marguerite,  who  was 
still  smiling  at  the  thought  of  what  the  worthy  fellow 
must  be  thinking  at  that  very  moment,  “we  shall 
require  nothing  more  : and  here’s  for  all  the  trouble  you 
have  been  put  to  on  our  account” 


202 


THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


She  handed  two  or  three  gold  pieces  to  Jellyband,  who 
took  them  respectfully,  and  .with  becoming  gratitude. 

“Stay,  Lady  Blakeney,”  interposed  Sir  Andrew,  as 
Jellyband  was  about  to  retire,  “ I am  afraid  we  shall 
require  something  more  of  my  friend  Jelly’s  hospitality. 
I am  sorry  to  say  we  cannot  cross  over  to-night.” 

“ Not  cross  over  to-night  ? ” she  repeated  in  amaze- 
ment. “ But  we  must,  Sir  Andrew,  we  must  1 There 
can  be  no  question  of  cannot,  and  whatever  it  may  cost, 
we  must  get  a vessel  to-night.” 

But  the  young  man  shook  his  head  sadly. 

“I  am  afraid  it  is  not  a question  of  cost,  Lady 
Blakeney.  There  is  a nasty  storm  blowing  from  France, 
the  wind  is  dead  against  us,  we  cannot  possibly  sail  until 
it  has  changed." 

Marguerite  became  deadly  pale.  She  had  not  foreseen 
this.  Nature  herself  was  playing  her  a horrible,  cruel 
trick.  Percy  was  in  danger,  and  she  could  not  go  to 
him,  because  the  wind  happened  to  blow  from  the  coast 
of  France. 

“ But  we  must  go  ! — we  must ! ” she  repeated  with 
strange,  persistent  energy,  “ you  know,  we  must  go ! 
— can’t  you  find  a way  ? ” 

14 1 have  been  down  to  the  shore  already,”  he  said, 
44  and  had  a talk  to  one  or  two  skippers.  It  is  quite 
impossible  to  set  sail  to-night,  so  every  sailor  assured  me. 
No  one,"  he  added,  looking  significantly  at  Marguerite, 
1 no  one  could  possibly  put  out  of  Dover  to-night." 

Marguerite  at  once  understood  what  he  meant.  No 
one  included  Chauvelin  as  well  as  herself.  She  nodded 
pleasantly  to  Jellyband. 

“Well,  then,  I must  resign  myself,”  she  said  to  him. 
**  Have  you  a room  for  me  ? ” 

41  Oh,  yes,  your  ladyship.  A nice,  bright,  airy  room. 


SUSPENSE 


203 

m see  to  it  at  once.  . . . And  there  is  another  one  for 
Sir  Andrew — both  quite  ready.” 

“That’s  brave  now,  mine  honest  Jelly,”  said  Sir 
Andrew,  gaily,  and  clapping  his  worthy  host  vigorously 
on  the  back.  “You  unlock  both  those  rooms,  and 
leave  our  candles  here  on  the  dresser.  I vow  you  are 
dead  with  sleep,  and  her  ladyship  must  have  some 
supper  before  she  retires.  There,  have  no  fear,  friend  of 
the  rueful  countenance,  her  ladyship’s  visit,  though  at 
this  unusual  hour,  is  a great  honour  to  thy  house,  and 
Sir  Percy  Blakeney  will  reward  thee  doubly,  if  thou  seest 
well  to  her  privacy  and  comfort.” 

Sir  Andrew  had  no  doubt  guessed  the  many  conflicting 
doubts  and  fears  which  raged  in  honest  Jellyband’s  head : 
and,  as  he  was  a gallant  gentleman,  he  tried  by  this  brave 
hint  to  allay  some  of  the  worthy  innkeeper’s  suspicions. 
He  had  the  satisfaction  of  seeing  that  he  had  partially 
succeeded.  Jellyband’s  rubicund  countenance  bright- 
ened somewhat,  at  mention  of  Sir  Percy’s  name. 

“ I’ll  go  and  see  to  it  at  once,  sir,”  he  said  with 
alacrity,  and  with  less  frigidity  in  his  manner.  “ Has  her 
ladyship  everything  she  wants  for  supper  ? ” 

“ Everything,  thanks,  honest  friend,  and  as  I am 
famished  and  dead  with  fatigue,  I pray  you  see  to  the 
rooms.” 

“Now  tell  me,”  she  said  eagerly, as  soon  as  Jellyband 
had  gone  from  the  room,  “ tell  me  all  your  news.” 

“There  is  nothing  else  much  to  tell  you,  Lady 
Blakeney,”  replied  the  young  man.  “ The  storm  makes 
it  quite  impossible  for  any  vessel  to  put  out  of  Dover 
this  tide.  But,  what  seemed  to  you  at  first  a terrible 
calamity,  is  really  a blessing  in  disguise.  If  we  cannot 
cross  over  to  France  to-night,  Chauvelin  is  in  the  same 
quandary.” 


204  THE  scarlet  pimpernel 

“ He  may  have  left  before  the  storm  broke  out/’ 

“God  grant  he  may,”  said  Sir  Andrew,  merrily,  “for 
very  likely  then  he’ll  have  been  driven  out  of  his  course  ! 
Who  knows  ? He  may  now  even  be  lying  at  the  bottom 
of  the  sea,  for  there  is  a furious  storm  raging,  and  it  will 
fare  ill  with  all  small  craft  which  happen  to  be  out. 
But  I fear  me  we  cannot  build  our  hopes  upon  the  ship- 
wreck of  that  cunning  devil,  and  of  all  his  murderous 
plans.  The  sailors  I spoke  to,  all  assured  me  that  no 
schooner  had  put  out  of  Dover  for  several  hours:  on 
the  other  hand,  I ascertained  that  a stranger  had  arrived 
by  coach  this  afternoon,  and  had,  like  myself,  made  some 
inquiries  about  crossing  over  to  France.” 

“ Then  Chauvelin  is  still  in  Dover  ? ” 

“ Undoubtedly.  Shall  I go  waylay  him  and  run  my 
sword  through  him?  That  were  indeed  the  quickest 
way  out  of  the  difficulty.” 

“ Nay  ! Sir  Andrew,  do  not  jest ! Alas  ! I have  often 
since  last  night  caught  myself  wishing  for  that  fiend’s 
death.  But  what  you  suggest  is  impossible  ! The  laws 
of  this  country  do  not  permit  of  murder  1 It  is  only  in 
our  beautiful  France  that  wholesale  slaughter  is  done 
lawfully,  in  the  name  of  Liberty  and  of  brotherly  love.” 

Sir  Andrew  had  persuaded  her  to  sit  down  to  the  table, 
to  partake  of  some  supper  and  to  drink  a little  wine. 
This  enforced  rest  of  at  least  twelve  hours,  until  the  next 
tide,  was  sure  to  be  terribly  difficult  to  bear  in  the  state 
of  intense  excitement  in  which  she  was.  Obedient  in 
these  small  matters  like  a child,  Marguerite  tried  to  eat 
and  drink. 

Sir  Andrew,  with  that  profound  sympathy  born  in  all 
those  who  are  in  love,  made  her  almost  happy  by  talking 
to  her  about  her  husband.  He  recounted  to  her  soma 
of  the  daring  escapes  the  brave  Scarlet  Pimpernel  had 


SUSPENSE 


305 


contrived  for  the  poor  French  fugitives,  whom  a relent- 
less and  bloody  revolution  was  driving  out  of  their 
country.  He  made  her  eyes  glow  with  enthusiasm  by 
telling  her  of  his  bravery,  his  ingenuity,  his  resourceful- 
ness, when  it  meant  snatching  the  lives. of  men,  women, 
and  even  children  from  beneath  the  very  edge  of  that 
murderous,  ever-ready  guillotine. 

He  even  made  her  smile  quite  merrily  by  telling  her 
of  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel’s  quaint  and  many  disguises, 
through  which  he  had  baffled  the  strictest  watch  set 
against  him  at  the  barricades  of  Paris.  This  last  time,  the 
escape  of  the  Comtessede  Tournay  and  her  children  had 
been  a veritable  masterpiece — Blakeney  disguised  as  a 
hideous  old  market-woman,  in  filthy  cap  and  straggling 
grey  locks,  was  a sight  fit  to  make  the  gods  laugh. 

Marguerite  laughed  heartily  as  Sir  Andrew  tried  to 
describe  Blakeney’s  appearance,  whose  gravest  difficulty 
always  consisted  in  his  great  height,  which  in  France 
made  disguise  doubly  difficult. 

Thus  an  hour  wore  on.  There  were  many  more  to 
spend  in  enforced  inactivity  in  Dover.  Marguerite  rose 
from  the  table  with  an  impatient  sigh.  She  looked  for- 
ward with  dread  to  the  night  in  the  bed  upstairs,  with 
terribly  anxious  thoughts  to  keep  her  company,  and  the 
howling  of  the  storm  to  help  chase  sleep  away. 

She  wondered  where  Percy  was  now.  The  Day  Dream 
was  a strong,  well-built,  sea-going  yacht.  Sir  Andrew  had 
expressed  the  opinion  that  no  doubt  she  had  got  in  the 
lee  of  the  wind  before  the  storm  broke  out,  or  else  per- 
haps had  not  ventured  into  the  open  at  all,  but  was  lying 
quietly  at  Gravesend. 

Briggs  was  an  expert  skipper,  and  Sir  Percy  handled  a 
schooner  as  well  as  any  master  mariner.  There  was  no 
danger  for  them  from  the  storm. 


206  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


It  was  long  past  midnight  when  at  last  Marguerite 
retired  to  rest.  As  she  had  feared,  sleep  sedulously 
avoided  her  eyes.  Her  thoughts  were  of  the  blackest 
during  these  long,  weary  hours,  whilst  that  incessant  storm 
raged  which  was  keeping  her  away  from  Percy.  The 
sound  of  the  distant  breakers  made  her  heart  ache  with 
melancholy.  She  was  in  the  mood  when  the  sea  has  a 
saddening  effect  upon  the  nerves.  It  is  only  when  we 
are  very  happy,  that  we  can  bear  to  gaze  merrily  upon 
the  vast  and  limitless  expanse  of  water,  rolling  on  and  on 
with  such  persistent,  irritating  monotony,  to  the  accom- 
paniment of  our  thoughts,  whether  grave  or  gay.  When 
they  are  gay,  the  waves  echo  their  gaiety ; but  when  they 
are  sad,  then  every  breaker,  as  it  rolls,  seems  to  bring 
additional  sadness,  and  to  speak  to  us  of  hopelessness 
and  ©f  the  pettiness  of  all  our  joys. 


t 


CHAPTER  XXII 


CALAIS 

The  weariest  nights,  the  longest  days,  sooner  or  later 
must  perforce  come  to  an  end. 

Marguerite  had  spent  over  fifteen  hours  in  such  acute 
mental  torture  as  well-nigh  drove  her  crazy.  After 
a sleepless  night,  she  rose  early,  wild  with  excite- 
ment, dying  to  start  on  her  journey,  terrified  lest  further 
obstacles  lay  in  her  way.  She  rose  before  anyone  else 
in  the  house  was  astir,  so  frightened  was  she,  lest  she 
should  miss  the  one  golden  opportunity  of  making  a 
start 

When  she  came  downstairs,  she  found  Sir  Andrew 
Ffoulkes  sitting  in  the  coffee-room.  He  had  been  out 
half  an  hour  earlier,  and  had  gone  to  the  Admiralty  Pier, 
only  to  find  that  neither  the  French  packet  nor  any 
privately  chartered  vessel  could  put  out  of  Dover  yet. 
The  storm  was  then  at  its  fullest,  and  the  tide  was  on 
the  turn.  If  the  wind  did  not  abate  or  change,  they  would 
perforce  have  to  wait  another  ten  or  twelve  hours  until 
the  next  tide,  before  a start  could  be  made.  And  the 
storm  had  not  abated,  the  wind  had  not  changed,  and 
the  tide  was  rapidly  drawing  out. 

Marguerite  felt  the  sickness  of  despair  when  she  heard 
this  melancholy  news.  Only  the  most  firm  resolution 
kept  her  from  totally  breaking  down,  and  thus  adding  to 


208  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


the  young  man’s  anxiety,  which  evidently  had  become 
very  keen. 

Though  he  tried  to  disguise  it,  Marguerite  could  see 
that  Sir  Andrew  was  just  as  anxious  as  she  was  to  reach 
his  comrade  and  friend.  This  enforced  inactivity  was 
terrible  to  them  both. 

How  they  spent  that  wearisome  day  at  Dover,  Mar- 
guerite could  never  afterwards  say.  She  was  in  terror  of 
showing  herself,  lest  Chauvelin’s  spies  happened  to  be 
about,  so  she  had  a private  sitting-room,  and  she  and  Sir 
Andrew  sat  there  hour  after  hour,  trying  to  take,  at  long 
intervals,  some  perfunctory  meals,  which  little  Sally  would 
bring  them,  with  nothing  to  do  but  to  think,  to  conjec- 
ture, and  only  occasionally  to  hope. 

The  storm  had  abated  just  too  late ; the  tide  was  by 
then  too  far  out  to  allow  a vessel  to  put  off  to  sea.  The 
wind  had  changed,  and  was  settling  down  to  a comfort- 
able north-westerly  breeze — a veritable  godsend  for  a 
speedy  passage  across  to  France. 

And  there  those  two  waited,  wondering  if  the  hour 
would  ever  come  when  they  could  finally  make  a start. 
There  had  been  one  happy  interval  in  this  long  weary 
day,  and  that  was  when  Sir  Andrew  went  down  once 
again  to  the  pier,  and  presently  came  back  to  tell 
Marguerite  that  he  had  chartered  a quick  schooner, 
whose  skipper  was  ready  to  put  to  sea  the  moment  the 
tide  was  favourable. 

From  that  moment  the  hours  seemed  less  wearisome  ; 
there  was  less  hopelessness  in  the  waiting ; and  at  last, 
at  five  o’clock  in  the  afternoon,  Marguerite,  closely 
veiled  and  followed  by  Sir  Andrew  Ffoulkes,  who,  in 
the  guise  of  her  lacquey,  was  carrying  a number  of  im- 
pedimenta, found  her  way  down  to  the  pier. 

Once  on  board,  the  keen,  fresh  sea-air  revived  her 


CALAIS 


209 


the  breeze  was  just  strong  enough  to  nicely  swell  the 
sails  of  the  Foam  Crest,  as  she  cut  her  way  merrily 
towards  the  open. 

The  sunset  was  glorious  after  the  storm,  and  Mar- 
guerite, as  she  watched  the  white  cliffs  of  Dover 
gradually  disappearing  from  view,  felt  more  at  peace, 
and  once  more  almost  hopeful. 

Sir  Andrew  was  full  of  kind  attentions,  and  she  felt 
how  lucky  she  had  been  to  have  him  by  her  side  in  this, 
her  great  trouble. 

Gradually  the  grey  coast  of  France  began  to  emerge 
from  the  fast-gathering  evening  mists.  One  or  two 
lights  could  be  seen  flickering,  and  the  spires  of  several 
churches  to  rise  out  of  the  surrounding  haze. 

Half  an  hour  later  Marguerite  had  landed  upon 
French  shore.  She  was  back  in  that  country  where  at 
this  very  moment  men  slaughtered  their  fellow-creatures 
by  the  hundreds,  and  sent  innocent  women  and  children 
in  thousands  to  the  block. 

The  very  aspect  of  the  country  and  its  people,  even 
in  this  remote  sea-coast  town,  spoke  of  that  seething 
revolution,  three  hundred  miles  away,  in  beautiful  Paris, 
now  rendered  hideous  by  the  constant  flow  of  the  blood 
of  her  noblest  sons,  by  the  wailing  of  the  widows,  and 
the  cries  of  fatherless  children. 

The  men  all  wore  red  caps — in  various  stages  of 
cleanliness — but  all  with  the  tricolour  cockade  pinned 
on  the  left-hand  side.  Marguerite  noticed  with  a 
shudder  that,  instead  of  the  laughing,  merry  counten- 
ance habitual  to  her  own  countrymen,  their  faces  now 
invariably  wore  a look  of  sly  distrust. 

Every  man  nowadays  was  a spy  upon  his  fellows : the 
most  innocent  word  uttered  in  jest  might  at  any  time 
be  brought  up  as  a proof  of  aristocratic  tendencies,  or 


2io  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


of  treachery  against  the  people.  Even  the  women  went 
about  with  a curious  look  of  fear  and  of  hate  lurking  in 
their  brown  eyes ; and  all  watched  Marguerite  as  she 
stepped  on  shore,  followed  by  Sir  Andrew,  and  murmured 
as  she  passed  along  : “ Sacris  aristos  / w or  else  “ Sacr'es 
Anglais  l" 

Otherwise  their  presence  excited  no  further  comment. 
Calais,  even  in  those  days,  was  in  constant  business 
communication  with  England,  and  English  merchants 
were  often  to  be  seen  on  this  coast.  It  was  well  known 
that  in  view  of  the  heavy  duties  in  England,  a vast  deal 
of  French  wines  and  brandies  were  smuggled  across. 
This  pleased  the  French  bourgeois  immensely ; he  liked 
to  see  the  English  Government  and  the  English  king, 
both  of  whom  he  hated,  cheated  out  of  their  revenues ; 
and  an  English  smuggler  was  always  a welcome  guest  at 
the  tumble-down  taverns  of  Calais  and  Boulogne. 

So,  perhaps,  *s  Sir  Andrew  gradually  directed  Mar- 
guerite through  the  tortuous  streets  of  Calais,  many  of 
the  population,  who  turned  with  an  oath  to  look  at  the 
strangers  clad  in  the  English  fashion,  thought  that  they 
were  bent  on  purchasing  dutiable  articles  for  their  own 
fog-ridden  country,  and  gave  them  no  more  than  a 
passing  thought. 

Marguerite,  however,  wondered  how  her  husband’s 
tall,  massive  figure  could  have  passed  through  Calais 
unobserved  : she  marvelled  what  disguise  he  assumed  to 
do  his  noble  work,  without  exciting  too  much  attention. 

Without  exchanging  more  than  a few  words,  Sir 
Andrew  was  leading  her  right  across  the  town,  to  the 
other  side  from  that  where  they  had  landed,  and  on  the 
way  towards  Cap  Gris  Nez.  The  streets  were  narrow, 
tortuous,  and  mostly  evil-smelling,  with  a mixture  of 
stale  fish  and  damD  cellar  odours.  There  had  been 


CALAIS 


211 


heavy  rain  here  during  the  storm  last  night,  and  some- 
times Marguerite  sank  ankle-deep  in  the  mud,  for  the 
roads  were  not  lighted  save  by  the  occasional  glimmer 
from  a lamp  inside  a house. 

But  she  did  not  heed  any  of  these  petty  discomforts  : 
5‘We  may  meet  Blakeney  at  the  ‘Chat  Gris,’”  Sir 
Andrew  had  said,  when  they  landed,  and  she  was  walk- 
ing as  if  on  a carpet  of  rose-leaves,  for  she  was  going  to 
meet  him  almost  at  once. 

At  last  they  reached  their  destination.  Sir  Andrew 
evidently  knew  the  road,  for  he  had  walked  unerringly 
in  the  dark,  and  had  not  asked  his  way  frdm  anyone. 
It  was  too  dark  then  for  Marguerite  to  notice  the  outside 
aspect  of  this  house.  The  “Chat  Gris,”  as  Sir  Andrew 
had  called  it,  was  evidently  a small  wayside  inn  on  the 
outskirts  of  Calais,  and  on  the  way  to  Gris  Nez.  It  lay 
some  little  distance  from  the  coast,  for  the  sound  of  the 
sea  seemed  to  come  from  afar. 

Sir  Andrew  knocked  at  the  door  with  the  knob  of  his 
cane,  and  from  within  Marguerite  heard  a sort  of  grunt 
and  the  muttering  of  a number  of  oaths.  Sir  Andrew 
knocked  again,  this  time  more  peremptorily : more  oaths 
were  heard,  and  then  shuffling  steps  seemed  to  draw 
near  the  door.  Presently  this  was  thrown  open,  and  Mar- 
guerite found  herself  on  the  threshold  of  the  most  dilapi- 
dated, most  squalid  room  she  had  ever  seen  in  all  her  life. 

The  paper,  such  as  it  was,  was  Hanging  from  the  walls 
in  strips;  there  did  not  seem  to  be  a single  piece  of 
furniture  iD  the  room  that  could,  by  the  wildest  stretch 
of  imagination,  be  called  “ whole.”  Most  of  the  chairs 
had  broken  backs,  others  had  no  seats  to  them,  one 
corner  of  the  table  was  propped  up  with  a bundle  of 
faggots,  there  where  the  fourth  leg  had  been  broken. 

In  one  corner  of  the  room  there  was  a huge  hearth, 


212  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


over  which  hung  a stock-pot,  with  a not  altogether 
unpalatable  odour  of  hot  soup  emanating  therefrom. 
On  one  side  of  the  room,  high  up  in  the  wall,  there 
was  a species  of  loft,  before  which  hung  a tattered  blue- 
and-white  checked  curtain.  A rickety  set  of  steps  led 
up  to  this  loft. 

On  the  great  bare  walls,  with  their  colourless  paper, 
all  stained  with  varied  filth,  there  were  chalked  up  at 
intervals  in  great  bold  characters,  the  words : “ Libert^ — 
Egalit£ — F raternit^.  ” 

The  whole  of  this  sordid  abode  was  dimly  lighted  by 
an  evil-smelling  oil-lamp,  which  hung  from  the  rickety 
rafters  of  the  ceiling.  It  all  looked  so  horribly  squalid, 
so  dirty  and  uninviting,  that  Marguerite  hardly  dared 
to  cross  the  threshold. 

Sir  Andrew,  however,  had  stepped  unhesitatingly 
forward. 

“English  travellers,  citoyen!”  he  said  boldly,  and 
speaking  in  French. 

The  individual  who  had  come  to  the  door  in  response 
to  Sir  Andrew’s  knock,  and  who,  presumably,  was  the 
owner  of  this  squalid  abode,  was  an  elderly,  heavily-built 
peasant,  dressed  in  a dirty  blue  blouse,  heavy  sabots, 
from  which  wisps  of  straw  protruded  all  round,  shabby 
blue  trousers,  and  the  inevitable  red  cap  with  the  tri- 
colour cockade,  that  proclaimed  his  momentary  political 
views.  He  carried  a short  wooden  pipe,  from  which  the 
odour  of  rank  tobacco  emanated.  He  looked  with  some 
suspicion  and  a great  deal  of  contempt  at  the  two 
travellers,  muttered  “ Sacrrres  Anglais  f ” and  spat  upon 
the  ground  to  further  show  his  independence  of  spirit, 
but,  nevertheless,  he  stood  aside  to  let  them  enter,  no 
doubt  well  aware  that  these  same  Sacrrres  Anglais 
dways  had  well-filled  purses. 


CALAIS 


213 


“Oh,  lud  1 ” said  Marguerite,  as  she  advanced  into  the 
room,  holding  her  handkerchief  to  her  dainty  nose, 
“ what  a dreadful  hole ! Are  you  sure  this  is  the  place  ? ” 

“Aye ! ’tis  the  place,  sure  enough,”  replied  the  young 
man  as,  with  his  lace-edged,  fashionable  handkerchief, 
he  dusted  a chair  for  Marguerite  to  sit  on ; “ but  I vow 
I never  saw  a more  villainous  hole.” 

“ Faith  1 ” she  said,  looking  round  with  some  curiosity 
and  a great  deal  of  horror  at  the  dilapidated  walls,  the 
broken  chairs,  the  rickety  table,  “ it  certainly  does  not 
look  inviting.” 

The  landlord  of  the  “ Chat  Gris  ” — by  name,  Brogard 
— had  taken  *iv  further  notice  of  his  guests;  he  con- 
cluded that  presently  they  would  order  supper,  and  in 
the  meanwhile  it  was  not  for  a free  citizen  to  show 
deference,  or  even  courtesy,  to  anyone,  however  smartly 
they  might  be  dressed. 

By  the  hearth  sat  a huddled-up  figure  clad,  seemingly, 
mostly  in  rags : that  figure  was  apparently  a woman, 
although  even  that  would  have  been  hard  to  distinguish, 
except  for  the  cap,  which  had  once  been  white,  and  for 
what  looked  like  the  semblance  of  a petticoat.  She  was 
sitting  mumbling  to  herself,  and  from  time  to  time 
stirring  the  brew  in  her  stock-pot. 

“Hey,  my  friend!”  said  Sir  Andrew  at  last,  Mwe 
should  like  some  supper.  . . . The  citoyenne  there,” 
he  added,  pointing  to  the  huddled-up  bundle  of  rags  by 
the  hearth,  “is  concocting  some  delicious  soup,  I’ll 
warrant,  and  my  mistress  has  not  tasted  food  for  several 
hours.” 

It  took  Brogard  some  few  moments  to  consider  the 
question.  A free  citizen  does  not  respond  too  readily 
to  the  wishes  of  those,  who  happen  to  require  something 
of  him. 


214  THE  scarlet  pimpernel 

“ Sacrrres  aristos  / " he  murmured,  and  once  more  spat 
upon  the  ground. 

Then  he  went  very  slowly  up  to  a dresser  which  stood 
in  a corner  of  the  room ; from  this  he  took  an  old 
pewter  soup-tureen  and  slowly,  and  without  a word, 
he  handed  it  to  his  better-half,  who,  in  the  same  silence, 
began  filling  the  tureen  with  the  soup  out  of  her  stock- 
pot. 

Marguerite  had  watched  all  these  preparations  with 
absolute  horror ; were  it  not  for  the  earnestness  of  her 
purpose,  she  would  incontinently  have  fled  from  this 
abode  of  dirt  and  evil  smells. 

“Faith!  our  host  and  hostess  ai/»  not  cheerful 
people,”  said  Sir  Andrew,  seeing  the  look  of  horror  on 
Marguerite’s  face.  “ I would  I could  offer  you  a more 
hearty  and  more  appetising  meal  . . . but  I think  you 
will  find  the  soup  eatable  and  the  wine  good;  these 
people  wallow  in  dirt,  but  live  well  as  a rule.” 

“ Nay ! I pray  you,  Sir  Andrew,”  she  said  gently,  “be 
not  anxious  about  me.  My  mind  is  scarce  inclined  to 
dwell  on  thoughts  of  supper.” 

Brogard  was  slowly  pursuing  his  gruesome  prepara- 
tions ; he  had  placed  a couple  of  spoons,  also  two 
glasses  on  the  table,  both  of  which  Sir  Andrew  took  the 
precaution  of  wiping  carefully. 

Brogard  had  also  produced  a bottle  of  wine  and  some 
bread,  and  Marguerite  made  an  effort  to  draw  her  chair 
to  the  table  and  to  make  some  pretence  at  eating.  Sir 
Andrew,  as  befitting  his  rdlt  of  lacquey,  stood  behind 
her  chair. 

“Nay,  Madame,  I pray  you,”  he  said,  seeing  that 
Marguerite  seemed  quite  unable  to  eat,  “ I beg  of  you 
to  try  and  swallow  some  food — remember  you  have  need 
of  all  your  strength.1 


CALAIS 


215 


The  soup  certainly  was  not  bad ; it  smelt  and  tasted 
good.  Marguerite  might  have  enjoyed  it,  but  for  the 
horrible  surroundings.  She  broke  the  bread,  however, 
and  drank  some  of  the  wine. 

“ Nay,  Sir  Andrew,”  she  said,  “ I do  not  like  to  see  you 
standing.  You  have  need  of  food  just  as  much  as  I 
have.  This  creature  will  only  think  that  I am  an 
eccentric  Englishwoman  eloping  with  her  lacquey,  if 
you’ll  sit  down  and  partake  of  this  semblance  of  supper 
beside  me.” 

Indeed,  Brogard  having  placed  what  was  strictly 
necessary  upon  the  table,  seemed  not  to  trouble  himself 
any  further  about  his  guests.  The  Mere  Brogard  had 
quietly  shuffled  out  of  the  room,  and  the  man  stood  and 
lounged  about,  smoking  his  evil-smelling  pipe,  some- 
times under  Marguerite’s  very  nose,  as  any  free-born 
citizen  who  was  anybody’s  equal  should  do. 

“Confound  the  brute  ! ” said  Sir  Andrew,  with  native 
British  wrath,  as  Brogard  leant  up  against  the  table, 
smoking  and  looking  down  superciliously  at  these  two 
saerrres  Anglais . 

11  In  Heaven’s  name,  man,”  admonished  Marguerite, 
hurriedly,  seeing  that  Sir  Andrew,  with  British-born 
instinct,  was  ominously  clenching  his  fist,  “remember 
that  you  are  in  France,  and  that  in  this  year  of  grace 
this  is  the  temper  of  the  people.” 

“ I’d  like  to  scrag  the  brute  1 ” muttered  Sir  Andrew, 
savagely. 

He  had  taken  Marguerite’s  advice  and  sat  next  to  her 
at  table,  and  they  were  both  making  noble  efforts  to 
deceive  one  another,  by  pretending  to  eat  and  drink. 

“ I pray  you,”  said  Marguerite,  “ keep  the  creature  in 
a good  temper,  so  that  he  may  answer  the  questions  we 
must  put  to  him.” 


216  the  scarlet  pimpernel 


“I'll  do  my  best,  but,  begad!  I’d  sooner  scrag  him 
than  question  him.  Hey ! my  friend,"  he  said 
pleasantly  in  French,  and  tapping  Brogard  lightly  on  the 
shoulder,  “ do  you  see  many  of  our  quality  along  these 
parts  ? Many  English  travellers,  I mean  ? ” 

Brogard  looked  round  at  him,  over  his  near  shoulder, 
puffed  away  at  his  pipe  for  a moment  or  two  as  he  was 
in  no  hurry,  then  muttered, — 

“ Heu ! — sometimes ! ” 

“Ah!”  said  Sir  Andrew,  carelessly,  “English 
travellers  always  know  where  they  can  get  good  wine, 
eh  ! my  friend? — Now,  tell  me,  my  lady  was  desiring  to 
know  if  by  any  chance  you  happen  to  have  seen  a great 
friend  of  hers,  an  English  gentleman,  who  often  comes  to 
Calais  on  business ; he  is  tall,  and  recently  was  on  his 
way  to  Paris — my  lady  hoped  to  have  met  him  in  Calais.” 

Marguerite  tried  not  to  look  at  Brogard,  lest  she 
should  betray  before  him  the  burning  anxiety  with 
which  she  waited  for  his  reply.  But  a free-born  French 
citizen  is  never  in  any  hurry  to  answer  questions: 
Brogard  took  his  time,  then  he  said  very  slowly, — 

“Tall  Englishman? — To-day  ! — Yes.” 

“You  have  seen  him?”  asked  Sir  Andrew,  carelessly. 
“Yes,  to-day,"  muttered  Brogard,  sullenly.  Then  he 
quietly  took  Sir  Andrew's  hat  from  a chair  close  by,  put 
it  on  his  own  head,  tugged  at  his  dirty  blouse,  and 
generally  tried  to  express  in  pantomime  that  the  in- 
dividual in  question  wore  very  fine  clothes.  “ Sacrre 
aristo  / * he  muttered,  “ that  tall  Englishman  1 ” 
Marguerite  could  scarce  repress  a scream. 

“It’s  Sir  Percy  right  enough,”  she  murmured,  “and 
not  even  in  disguise ! ’’ 

She  smiled,  in  the  midst  of  all  her  anxiety  and  through 
her  gathering  tears,  at  thought  of  “ the  ruling  passion 


CALAIS 


117 


itrong  in  death  n ; of  Percy  running  into  the  wildest, 
maddest  dangers,  with  the  latest-cut  coat  upon  his  back, 
and  the  laces  of  his  jabot  unruffled. 

“ Oh  ! the  foolhardiness  of  it ! ” she  sighed.  “ Quick, 
Sir  Andrew ! ask  the  man  when  he  went.” 

“Ah,  yes,  my  friend,”  said  Sir  Andrew,  addressing 
Brogard,  with  the  same  assumption  of  carelessness,  “ my 
lord  always  wears  beautiful  clothes  ; the  tall  Englishman 
you  saw,  was  certainly  my  lady's  friend.  And  he  has 
gone,  you  say  ? ” 

“ He  went  . . . yes  . . . but  he’s  coming  back  . . . 
here — he  ordered  supper  . . 

Sir  Andrew  put  his  hand  with  a quick  gesture  of 
warning  upon  Marguerite’s  arm  ; it  came  none  too  soon, 
for  the  next  moment  her  wild,  mad  joy  would  have 
betrayed  her.  He  was  safe  and  well,  was  coming  back 
here  presently,  she  would  see  him  in  a few  moments 
perhaps.  . . . Oh  ! the  wildness  of  her  joy  seemed  almost 
more  than  she  could  bear. 

“ Here ! ” she  said  to  Brogard,  who  seemed  suddenly 
to  have  been  transformed  in  her  eyes  into  some  heaven- 
born  messenger  of  bliss.  “ Here  ! — did  you  say  the 
English  gentleman  was  coming  back  here?” 

The  heaven-born  messenger  of  bliss  spat  upon  the 
floor,  to  express  his  contempt  for  all  and  sundry  aristos, 
who  chose  to  haunt  the  “ Chat  Gris.” 

“Heu!”  he  muttered,  “he  ordered  supper — he  will 
come  back.  . . . Sacrre  Anglais  / ” he  added,  by  way  o i 
protest  against  all  this  fuss  for  a mere  Englishman. 

“ But  where  is  he  now  ? — Do  you  know  ? ” she  asked 
eagerly,  placing  her  dainty  white  hand  upon  the  dirty 
sleeve  of  his  blue  blouse. 

“He  went  to  get  a horse  and  cart,”  said  Brogard, 
laconically,  as,  with  a surly  gesture,  he  shook  off  from 

' * 


218  the  scarlet  pimpernel 


his  arm  that  pretty  hand  which  princes  had  been  proud 
to  kiss. 

“ At  what  time  did  he  go  ? ” 

But  Brogard  had  evidently  had  enough  of  these 
questionings.  He  did  not  think  that  it  was  fitting  for  a 
citizen — who  was  the  equal  of  anybody — to  be  thus 
catechised  by  these  saerres  aristosy  even  though  they 
were  rich  English  ones.  It  was  distinctly  more  fitting 
to  his  new-born  dignity  to  be  as  rude  as  possible ; it  was 
a sure  sign  of  servility  to  meekly  reply  to  civil  questions. 

“I  don’t  know,”  he  said,  surlily.  “I  have  said 
enough,  voyotts,  Us  aristos  1 . . . He  came  to-day. 
He  ordered  supper.  He  went  out. — He’ll  come  back. 
Voila  / ” 

And  with  this  parting  assertion  of  his  rights  as  a 
citizen  and  a free  man,  to  be  as  rude  as  he  well  pleased, 
Brogard  shuffled  out  of  the  room,  banging  the  door 
after  him. 


CHAPTER  XXIII 


HOPE 

**  Faith,  Madame ! ” said  Sir  Andrew,  seeing  that  Mar- 
guerite seemed  desirous  to  call  her  surly  host  back 
again,  “I  think  we’d  better  leave  him  alone.  We 
shall  not  get  anything  more  out  of  him,  and  we  might 
arouse  his  suspicions.  One  never  knows  what  spies 
may  be  lurking  around  these  God-forsaken  places.” 

“ What  care  I ? ” she  replied  lightly,  “ now  I know 
that  my  husband  is  safe,  and  that  I shall  see  him  almost 
directly  1 n 

“Hush!”  he  said  in  genuine  alarm,  for  she  had 
talked  quite  loudly,  in  the  fulness  of  her  glee,  “the 
very  walls  have  ears  in  France,  these  days.” 

He  rose  quickly  from  the  table,  and  walked  round 
the  bare,  squalid  room,  listening  attentively  at  the  door, 
through  which  Brogard  had  just  disappeared,  and  whence 
only  muttered  oaths  and  shuffling  footsteps  could  be 
heard.  He  also  ran  up  the  rickety  steps  that  led  to 
the  attic,  to  assure  himself  that  there  were  no  spies  of 
Chauvelin’s  about  the  place. 

“Are  we  alone,  Monsieur,  my  lacquey?”  said  Mar- 
guerite, gaily,  as  the  young  man  once  more  sat  down 
beside  her.  “ May  we  talk  ? ” 

“ As  cautiously  as  possible ! n he  entreated. 

“ Faith,  man ! but  you  wear  a glum  face  i As  for  mes 
I could  dance  with  joy ! Surely  there  is  no  longer  any 
cause  for  fear.  Our  boat  is  on  the  beach,  the  Foam 
«9 


220  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


Crest  not  two  miles  out  at  sea,  and  my  husband  will 
be  here,  under  this  very  roof,  within  the  next  half  hour 
perhaps.  Sure ! there  is  naught  to  hinder  us.  Chauve* 
lin  and  his  gang  have  not  yet  arrived.” 

“ Nay,  madam  ! that  I fear  we  do  not  know.” 

“ What  do  you  mean  ? ” 

“ He  was  at  Dover  at  the  same  time  that  we  were.” 

“Held  up  by  the  same  storm,  which  kept  us  from 
starting.” 

“ Exactly.  But — I did  not  speak  of  it  before,  for  I 
feared  to  alarm  you — I saw  him  on  the  beach  not  five 
minutes  before  we  embarked.  At  least,  I swore  to 
myself  at  the  time  that  it  was  himself;  he  was  dis- 
guised as  a curt,  so  that  Satan,  his  own  guardian,  would 
scarce  have  known  him.  But  I heard  him  then,  bar- 
gaining for  a vessel  to  take  him  swiftly  to  Calais; 
and  he  must  have  set  sail  less  than  an  hour  after 
we  did.” 

Marguerite’s  face  had  quickly  lost  its  look  of  joy. 
The  terrible  danger  in  which  Percy  stood,  now  that 
he  was  actually  on  French  soil,  became  suddenly  and 
horribly  clear  to  her.  Chauvelin  was  close  upon  his 
heels;  here  in  Calais,  the  astute  diplomatist  was  all- 
powerful  ; a word  from  him  and  Percy  could  be  tracked 
and  arrested  and  . . . 

Every  drop  of  blood  seemed  to  freeze  in  her  veins ; 
not  even  during  the  moments  of  her  wildest  anguish 
in  England  had  she  so  completely  realised  the  im- 
minence of  the  peril  in  which  her  husband  stood. 
Chauvelin  had  sworn  to  bring  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel 
to  the  guillotine,  and  now  the  daring  plotter,  whose 
anonymity  hitherto  had  been  his  safeguard,  stood  re- 
vealed through  her  own  hand,  to  his  most  bitter,  most 
relentless  enemy. 


HOPE 


*z  i 


Chauvelin — when  he  waylaid  Lord  Tony  and  Sir 
Andrew  Ffoulkes  in  the  coffee-room  of  “The  Fisher- 
man’s  Rest  ” — had  obtained  possession  of  all  the  plans 
of  this  latest  expedition.  Armand  St  Just,  the  Comte 
de  Toumay  and  other  fugitive  royalists  were  to  have 
met  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel — or  rather,  as  it  had  been 
originally  arranged,  two  of  his  emissaries  — on  this 
day,  the  and  of  October,  at  a place  evidently  known 
to  the  league,  and  vaguely  alluded  to  as  the  “Pfere 
Blanchard’s  hut.” 

Armand,  whose  connection  with  the  Scarlet  Pimper- 
nel and  disavowal  of  the  brutal  policy  of  the  Reign  of 
Terror  was  still  unknown  to  his  countrymen,  had  left 
England  a little  more  than  a week  ago,  carrying  with 
him  the  necessary  instructions,  which  would  enable 
him  to  meet  the  other  fugitives  and  to  convey  them  to 
this  place  of  safety 

This  much  Marguerite  had  fully  understood  from  the 
first,  and  Sir  Andrew  Ffoulkes  had  confirmed  her  sur- 
mises. She  knew,  too,  that  when  Sir  Percy  realised  that 
his  own  plans  and  his  directions  to  his  lieutenants  had 
been  stolen  by  Chauvelin,  it  was  too  late  to  communi- 
cate with  Armand,  or  to  send  fresh  instructions  to  the 
fugitives. 

They  would,  of  necessity,  be  at  the  appointed  time 
and  place,  not  knowing  how  grave  was  the  danger 
which  now  awaited  their  brave  rescuer. 

Blakeney,  who  as  usual  had  planned  and  organised 
the  whole  expedition,  would  not  allow  any  of  his 
younger  comrades  to  run  the  risk  of  almost  certain 
capture.  Hence  his  hurried  note  to  them  at  Lord 
Grenville’s  ball — “Start  myself  to-morrow — alone.” 

And  now  with  his  identity  known  to  his  most  bitter 
enemy,  his  every  step  would  be  dogged,  the  moment  h« 


322  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


set  foot  in  France.  He  would  be  tracked  by  Chauve- 
lin’s  emissaries,  followed  until  he  reached  that  mysterious 
hut  where  the  fugitives  were  waiting  for  him,  and  there 
the  trap  would  be  closed  on  him  and  on  them. 

There  was  but  one  hour — the  hour’s  start  which 
Marguerite  and  Sir  Andrew  had  of  their  enemy — in 
which  to  warn  Percy  of  the  imminence  of  his  danger, 
and  to  persuade  him  to  give  up  the  foolhardy  expedi- 
tion, which  could  only  end  in  his  own  death. 

But  there  was  that  one  hour. 

“Chauvelin  knows  of  this  inn,  from  the  papers  he 
stole,”  said  Sir  Andrew,  earnestly,  “and  on  landing  will 
make  straight  for  it.” 

“He  has  not  landed  yet,”  she  said,  “we  have  an 
hour’s  start  of  him,  and  Percy  will  be  here  directly. 
We  shall  be  mid-Channel  ere  Chauvelin  has  realised 
that  we  have  slipped  through  his  fingers.” 

She  spoke  excitedly  and  eagerly,  wishing  to  infuse 
into  her  young  friend  some  of  that  buoyant  hope, 
which  still  clung  to  her  heart.  But  he  shook  his  head 
sadly. 

“Silent  again,  Sir  Andrew?”  she  said  with  some 
impatience.  “ Why  do  you  shake  your  head  and  look 
so  glum  ? ” 

“Faith,  Madame,”  he  replied,  “’tis  only  because  in 
making  your  rose-coloured  plans,  you  are  forgetting  the 
most  important  factor.” 

“ What  in  the  world  do  you  mean  ? — I am  forgetting 
nothing.  . . . What  factor  do  you  mean  ? ” she  added 
with  more  impatience. 

“It  stands  six  foot  odd  high,”  replied  Sir  Andrew, 
quietly,  “ and  hath  name  Percy  Blakeney.” 

“ I don’t  understand,”  she  murmured. 

“Do  you  think  that  Blakeney  would  leave  Calais 


HOPE  223 

without  having  accomplished  what  he  set  out  to 
do?” 

" You  mean  . . .?” 

11  There’s  the  old  Comte  de  Tournay  . . .* 

“ The  Comte  . . . she  murmured. 

“And  St  Just  . . . and  others  . . 

“My  brother!”  she  said  with  a heart-broken  sob 
of  anguish.  “Heaven  help  me,  but  I fear  I had 
forgotten.” 

“Fugitives  as  they  are,  these  men  at  this  moment 
await  with  perfect  confidence  and  unshaken  faith  the 
arrival  of  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel,  who  has  pledged  his 
honour  to  take  them  safely  across  the  Channel.” 

Indeed,  she  had  forgotten  ! With  the  sublime  selfish- 
ness of  a woman  who  loves  with  her  whole  heart,  she 
had  in  the  last  twenty-four  hours  had  no  thought  save 
for  him.  His  precious,  noble  life,  his  danger — he,  the 
loved  one,  the  brave  hero,  he  alone  dwelt  in  her  mind. 

“ My  brother  ! ” she  murmured,  as  one  by  one  the 
heavy  tears  gathered  in  her  eyes,  as  memory  came  back 
to  her  of  Armand,  the  companion  and  darling  of  her 
childhood,  the  man  for  whom  she  had  committed  the 
deadly  sin,  which  had  so  hopelessly  imperilled  her  brave 
husband’s  life. 

“Sir  Percy  Blakeney  would  not  be  the  trusted, 
honoured  leader  of  a score  of  English  gentlemen,” 
said  Sir  Andrew,  proudly,  “ if  he  abandoned  those  who 
placed  their  trust  in  him.  As  for  breaking  his  word, 
the  very  thought  is  preposterous  ! ” 

There  was  silence  for  a moment  or  two.  Marguerite 
had  buried  her  face  in  her  hands,  and  was  letting  the 
tears  slowly  trickle  through  her  trembling  fingers.  The 
young  man  said  nothing ; his  heart  ached  for  this 
beautiful  woman  in  her  awful  grief.  Ali  along  he  had 


224  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

felt  the  terrible  impasse  in  which  her  own  rash  act  had 
plunged  them  all.  He  knew  his  friend  and  leader  so 
well,  with  his  reckless  daring,  his  mad  bravery,  his 
worship  of  his  own  word  of  honour.  Sir  Andrew  knew 
that  Blakeney  would  brave  any  danger,  run  the  wildest 
risks  sooner  than  break  it,  and,  with  Chauvelin  at  his 
very  heels,  would  make  a final  attempt,  however  desper- 
ate, to  rescue  those  who  trusted  in  him. 

11  Faith,  Sir  Andrew,”  said  Marguerite  at  last,  making 
brave  efforts  to  dry  her  tears,  “ you  are  right,  and  I 
would  not  now  shame  myself  by  trying  to  dissuade  him 
from  doing  his  duty.  As  you  say,  I should  plead  in 
vain.  God  grant  him  strength  and  ability,”  she  added 
fervently  and  resolutely,  “ to  outwit  his  pursuers.  He 
will  not  refuse  to  take  you  with  him,  perhaps,  when  he 
starts  on  his  noble  work  ; between  you,  you  will  have 
cunning  as  well  as  valour ! God  guard  you  both ! In 
the  meanwhile  I think  we  should  lose  no  time.  I still 
believe  that  his  safety  depends  upon  his  knowing  that 
Chauvelin  is  on  his  track.” 

“ Undoubtedly.  He  has  wonderful  resources  at  his 
command.  As  soon  as  he  is  aware  of  his  danger  he 
will  exercise  more  caution  : his  ingenuity  is  a veritable 
miracle.” 

“ Then,  what  say  you  to  a voyage  of  reconnaissance  in 
the  village  whilst  I wait  here  against  his  coming  ! — You 
might  come  across  Percy’s  track  and  thus  save  valuable 
time.  If  you  find  him,  tell  him  to  beware  ! — -his  bitterest 
enemy  is  on  his  heels  ! ” 

“But  this  is  such  a villainous  hole  for  you  to  wait 
in.” 

“ Nay,  that  I do  not  mind  ! — But  you  might  ask  our 
curly  host  if  he  could  let  me  wait  in  another  room,  where 
I could  be  safer  from  the  prying  eyes  of  any  chance 


HOPE 


225 


traveller.  Offer  him  some  ready  money,  so  that  he 
should  not  fail  to  give  me  word  the  moment  the  tall 
Englishman  returns.” 

She  spolce  quite  calmly,  even  cheerfully  now,  thinking 
out  her  plans,  ready  for  the  worst  if  need  be ; she  would 
show  no  more  weakness,  she  would  prove  herself  worthy 
of  him,  who  was  about  to  give  his  life  for  the  sake  of  his 
fellow-men. 

Sir  Andrew  obeyed  her  without  further  comment. 
Instinctively  he  felt  that  hers  now  was  the  stronger 
mind;  he  was  willing  to  give  himself  over  to  her 
guidance,  to  become  the  hand,  whilst  she  was  the 
directing  head. 

He  went  to  the  door  of  the  inner  room,  through  which 
Brogard  and  his  wife  had  disappeared  before,  and 
knocked;  as  usual,  he  was  answered  by  a salvo  of 
muttered  oaths. 

“ Hey  ! friend  Brogard  ! ” said  the  young  man  peremp- 
torily, “ my  lady  would  wish  to  rest  here  awhile.  Could 
you  give  her  the  use  of  another  room  ? She  would  wish 
to  be  alone.” 

He  took  some  money  out  of  his  pocket,  and  allowed 
it  to  jingle  significantly  in  his  hand.  Brogard  had 
opened  the  door,  and  listened,  with  his  usual  surly 
apathy,  to  the  young  man’s  request.  At  sight  of  the  gold, 
however,  his  lazy  attitude  relaxed  slightly ; he  took  his 
pipe  from  his  mouth  and  shuffled  into  the  room. 

He  then  pointed  over  his  shoulder  at  the  attic  up  in 
the  wall. 

“ She  can  wait  up  there  ! ” he  said  with  a grant.  ••  It’s 
comfortable,  and  I have  no  other  room.” 

“ Nothing  could  be  better,”  said  Marguerite  in 
English;  she  at  once  realised  the  advantages  such  a 
position  hidden  from  view  would  give  her.  “Give  him 


226  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


the  money,  Sir  Andrew  ; I shall  be  quite  happy  up  there, 
and  can  see  everything  without  being  seen.” 

She  nodded  to  Brogard,  who  condescended  to  go  up 
to  the  attic,  and  to  shake  up  the  straw  that  lay  on  the 
floor. 

“ May  I entreat  you,  madam,  to  do  nothing  rash,” 
said  Sir  Andrew,  as  Marguerite  prepared  in  her  turn  to 
ascend  the  rickety  flight  of  steps.  “Remember  this 
place  is  infested  with  spies.  Do  not,  I beg  of  you, 
reveal  yourself  to  Sir  Percy,  unless  you  are  absolutely 
certain  that  you  are  alone  with  him.” 

Even  as  he  spoke,  he  felt  how  unnecessary  was  this 
caution : Marguerite  was  as  calm,  as  clear-headed  as 
any  man.  There  was  no  fear  of  her  doing  anything  that 
was  rash. 

“Nay,”  she  said,  with  a slight  attempt  at  cheerfulness, 
“that  can  I faithfully  promise  you.  I would  not 
jeopardise  my  husband’s  life,  nor  yet  his  plans,  by 
speaking  to  him  before  strangers.  Have  no  fear,  I will 
watch  my  opportunity,  and  serve  him  in  the  manner  I 
think  he  needs  it  most.” 

Brogard  had  come  down  the  steps  again,  and  Mar- 
guerite was  ready  to  go  up  to  her  safe  retreat. 

“ I dare  not  kiss  your  hand,  madam,”  said  Sir  Andrew, 
as  she  began  to  mount  the  steps,  “ since  I am  your 
lacquey,  but  I pray  you  be  of  good  cheer.  If  I do  not 
come  across  Blakeney  in  half  an  hour,  I shall  return, 
expecting  to  find  him  here.” 

“Yes,  that  will  be  best.  We  can  afford  to  wait  for 
half  an  hour.  Chauvelin  cannot  possibly  be  here  before 
that.  God  grant  that  either  you  or  I may  have  seen 
Percy  by  then.  Good  luck  to  you,  friend ! Have  no 
feai  for  me.” 

Lightly  she  mounted  the  rickety  wooden  steps  that 


HOPE 


227 


led  to  the  attic.  Brogard  was  taking  no  further  heed  of 
her.  She  could  make  herself  comfortable  there  or  not 
as  she  chose.  Sir  Andrew  watched  her  until  she  had 
reached  the  loft  and  sat  down  upon  the  straw.  She 
pulled  the  tattered  curtains  across,  and  the  young  man 
noted  that  she  was  singularly  well  placed  there,  for  seeing 
and  hearing,  whilst  remaining  unobserved. 

He  had  paid  Brogard  well ; the  surly  old  innkeeper 
would  have  no  object  in  betraying  her.  Then  Sir 
Andrew  prepared  to  go.  At  the  door  he  turned  once 
again  and  looked  up  at  the  loft.  Through  the  ragged 
curtains  Marguerite’s  sweet  face  was  peeping  down  at 
him,  and  the  young  man  rejoiced  to  see  that  it  looked 
serene,  and  even  gently  smiling.  With  a final  nod  of 
farewell  to  her,  he  walked  out  into  the  night 


CHAPTER  XXIV 


THE  DEATH-TRAP 

The  next  quarter  of  an  hour  went  by  swiftly  and  noise- 
lessly. In  the  room  downstairs,  Brogard  had  for  a while 
busied  himself  with  clearing  the  table,  and  re-arranging 
it  for  another  guest. 

It  was  because  she  watched  these  preparations,  that 
Marguerite  found  the  time  slipping  by  more  pleasantly 
It  was  for  Percy  that  this  semblance  of  supper  was 
being  got  ready.  Evidently  Brogard  had  a certain 
amount  of  icspect  for  the  tall  Englishman,  as  he  seemed 
to  take  some  trouble  in  making  the  place  look  a trifle 
less  uninviting,  than  it  had  done  before. 

He  even  produced,  from  some  hidden  recess  in  the  old 
dresser,  what  actually  looked  like  a table-cloth  ; and 
when  he  spread  it  out,  and  saw  it  was  full  of  holes,  he 
shook  his  head  dubiously  for  a while,  then  was  at  much 
pains  so  to  spread  it  over  the  table,  as  to  hide  most  of 
its  blemishes. 

Then  he  got  out  a serviette,  also  old  and  ragged,  but 
possessing  some  measure  of  cleanliness,  and  with  this 
he  carefully  wiped  the  glasses,  spoons  and  plates,  which 
he  put  on  the  table. 

Marguerite  could  not  help  smiling  to  herself  as  she 
watched  ail  these  preparations,  which  Brogard  accom- 
plished to  an  accompaniment  of  muttered  oaths.  Clearly 
the  great  height  and  bulk  of  the  Englishman,  cr  perhaps 
aa* 


THE  DEATH-TRAP 


229 


the  weight  of  his  fist,  had  overawed  this  free-born  citizen 
of  France,  or  he  would  never  have  been  at  such  trouble 
for  any  sacrre  aristo . 

When  the  table  was  set — such  as  it  was-~Brogard 
surveyed  it  with  evident  satisfaction.  He  thtn  dusted 
one  of  the  chairs  with  the  corner  of  his  blouse,  gave  a 
stir  to  the  stock-pot,  threw  a fresh  bundle  of  faggots 
on  to  the  fire,  and  slouched  out  of  the  room. 

Marguerite  was  left  alone  with  her  reflections.  She 
had  spread  her  travelling  cloak  over  the  straw,  and  was 
sitting  fairly  comfortably,  as  the  straw  was  fresh,  and  the 
evil  odours  from  below  came  up  to  her  only  in  a modified 
form. 

But,  momentarily,  she  was  almost  happy ; happy 
because,  when  she  peeped  through  the  tattered  curtains^ 
she  could  see  a rickety  chair,  a torn  table-cloth,  a glass, 
a plate  and  a spoon ; that  was  all.  But  those  mute  and 
ugly  things  seemed  to  say  to  her,  that  they  were  waiting 
for  Percy ; that  soon,  very  soon,  he  would  be  here,  that 
the  squalid  room  being  still  empty,  they  would  be  alone 
together. 

That  thought  was  so  heavenly,  that  Marguerite  closed 
her  eyes  in  order  to  shut  out  everything  but  that.  In 
a few  minutes  she  would  be  alone  with  him ; she  would 
run  down  the  ladder,  and  let  him  see  her;  then  he 
would  take  her  in  his  arms,  and  she  would  let  him  see 
that,  after  that,  she  would  gladly  die  for  him,  and  with 
him,  for  earth  could  hold  no  greater  happiness  than  that. 

And  then  what  would  happen  ? She  could  not  even 
remotely  conjecture.  She  knew,  of  course,  that  Sir 
Andrew  was  right,  that  Percy  would  do  everything  he 
had  set  out  to  accomplish  ; that  she — now  she  was  here 
— could  do  nothing,  beyond  warning  him  to  be  cautious, 
since  Chauvelin  himself  was  on  his  track.  After  having 


230  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

cautioned  him,  she  would  perforce  hare  to  see  him  go 
off  upon  his  terrible  and  daring  mission ; she  could  not 
even  with  a word  or  look,  attempt  to  keep  him  back. 
She  would  have  to  obey,  whatever  he  told  her  to  do, 
even  perhaps  have  to  efface  herself,  and  wait,  in  inde- 
scribable agony,  whilst  he,  perhaps,  went  to  his  death. 

But  even  that  seemed  less  terrible  to  bear  than  the 
thought  that  he  should  never  know  how  much  she  loved 
him — that  at  anyrate  would  be  spared  her ; the  squalid 
room  itself,  which  seemed  to  be  waiting  for  him,  told 
her  that  he  would  be  here  soon. 

Suddenly  her  over-sensitive  ears  caught  the  sound  of 
distant  footsteps  drawing  near;  her  heart  gave  a wild 
leap  of  joy ! Was  it  Percy  at  last  ? No  ! the  step  did 
not  seem  quite  as  long,  nor  quite  as  firm  as  his ; she 
also  thought  that  she  could  hear  two  distinct  sets  of 
footsteps.  Yes  ! that  was  it ! two  men  were  coming  this 
way.  Two  strangers  perhaps,  to  get  a drink,  or  . . . 

But  she  had  not  time  to  conjecture,  for  presently 
there  was  a peremptory  call  at  the  door,  and  the  next 
moment  it  was  violently  thrown  open  from  the  outside, 
whilst  a rough,  commanding  voice  shouted, — 

“ Hey  1 Citoyen  Brogard  ! Hold ! ” 

Marguerite  could  not  see  the  newcomers,  but,  through 
a hole  in  one  of  the  curtains,  she  could  observe  one 
portion  of  the  room  below. 

She  heard  Brogard’s  shuffling  footsteps,  as  he  came 
out  of  the  inner  room,  muttering  his  usual  string  of 
oaths.  On  seeing  the  strangers,  however,  he  paused  in 
the  middle  of  the  room,  well  within  range  of  Marguerite’s 
vision,  looked  at  them,  with  even  more  withering 
contempt  than  he  had  bestowed  upon  his  former  guests, 
and  muttered,  “ Sacrrree  soutane  ! ” 

Marguerite’s  heart  seemed  all  at  once  to  stop  beating ; 


THE  DEATH-TRAP 


231 

her  eyes,  large  and  dilated,  nad  fastened  on  one  of  the 
newcomers,  who,  at  this  point,  had  taken  a quick  step 
forward  towards  Brogard.  He  was  dressed  in  the 
soutane,  broad-brimmed  hat  and  buckled  shoes,  habitual 
to  the  French  cure , but  as  he  stood  opposite  the  inn- 
keeper, he  threw  open  his  soutane  for  a moment, 
displaying  the  tricolour  scarf  of  officialism,  which  sight 
immediately  had  the  effect  of  transforming  Brogard’s 
attitude  of  contempt,  into  one  of  cringing  obsequiousness. 

It  was  the  sight  of  this  French  cure,  which  seemed  to 
freeze  the  very  blood  in  Marguerite’s  veins.  She  could 
not  see  his  face,  which  was  shaded  by  his  broad- 
brimmed  hat,  but  she  recognized  the  thin,  bony  hands, 
the  slight  stoop,  the  whole  gait  of  the  man ! It  was 
Chauvelin  ! 

The  horror  of  the  situation  struck  her  as  with  a 
physical  blow ; the  awful  disappointment,  the  dread  of 
what  was  to  come,  made  her  very  senses  reel,  and  she 
needed  almost  superhuman  effort,  not  to  fall  senseless 
beneath  it  all. 

“A  plate  of  soup  and  a bottle  of  wine,”  said  Chauvelin 
imperiously  to  Brogard,  “ then  clear  out  of  here — under- 
stand? I want  to  be  alone.” 

Silently,  and  without  any  muttering  this  time,  Brogard 
obeyed.  Chauvelin  sat  down  at  the  table,  which  had 
been  prepared  for  the  tall  Englishman,  and  the  innkeeper 
busied  himself  obsequiously  round  him,  dishing  up  the 
soup  and  pouring  out  the  wine.  The  man  who  had 
entered  with  Chauvelin  and  whom  Marguerite  could  not 
see,  stood  waiting  close  by  the  door. 

At  a brusque  sign  from  Chauvelin,  Brogard  had 
hurried  back  to  the  inner  room,  and  the  former  now 
beckoned  to  the  man  who  had  accompanied  him. 

In  him  Marguerite  at  once  recognised  Desgas, 


232  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

Chanvelin's  secretary  and  confidential  factotum,  whom 
she  had  often  seen  in  Paris,  in  the  days  gone  by.  He 
crossed  the  room,  and  for  a moment  or  two  listened 
attentively  at  the  Brogards’  door. 

“Not  listening ?”  asked  Chauvelin,  curtly. 

“No,  citoyen.” 

For  a second  Marguerite  dreaded  lest  Chauvelin 
should  order  Desgas  to  search  the  place ; what  would 
happen  if  she  were  to  be  discovered,  she  hardly  dared  to 
imagine.  Fortunately,  however,  Chauvelin  seemed  more  , 
impatient  to  talk  to  his  secretary  than  afraid  of  spies, 
for  he  called  Desgas  quickly  back  to  his  side. 

“ The  English  schooner  ? ” he  asked 

“She  was  lost  sight  of  at  sundown,  citoyen,”  replied 
Desgas,  “ but  was  then  making  west,  towards  Cap  Gris 
Nez.” 

“ Ah  ! — good ! — " muttered  Chauvelin,  “ and  now, 
about  Captain  Jutiey? — what  did  he  say?” 

“ He  assured  me  that  all  the  orders  you  sent  him  last 
week  have  been  implicitly  obeyed.  All  the  roads  which 
converge  to  this  place  have  been  patrolled  night  and  day 
ever  since  : and  the  beach  and  cliffs  have  been  most 
rigorously  searched  and  guarded.” 

“ Does  he  know  where  this  1 Pere  Blanchard’s  hut  * 
is?” 

“No,  citoyen,  nobody  seems  to  know  of  it  by  that 
name.  There  are  any  amount  of  fishermen's  huts  all 
along  the  coast,  of  course  . . . but  . . .” 

“That’ll  do.  Now  about  to-night?”  interrupted 
Chauvelin,  impatiently. 

“The  roads  and  the  beach  are  patrolled  as  usual, 
citoyen,  and  Captain  Jutiey  awaits  further  orders.” 

“ Go  back  to  him  at  once,  then.  Tell  him  to  send 
reinforcement^  to  the  various  patrols ; and  especially  to 
those  along  the  beach — you  understand  ? ” 


THE  DEATH-TRAP 


233 

Chauvelin  spoke  curtly  and  to  the  point,  and  every 
word  he  uttered  struck  at  Marguerite’s  heart  like  the 
death-knell  of  her  fondest  hopes. 

“The  men,”  he  continued,  “are  to  keep  the  sharpest 
possible  look-out  for  any  stranger  who  may  be  walking, 
riding,  or  driving,  along  the  road  or  the  beach,  more 
especially  for  a tall  stranger,  whom  I need  not  describe 
further,  as  probably  he  will  be  disguised;  but  he  cannot 
very  well  conceal  his  height,  except  by  stooping.  You 
understand  ? ” 

“Perfectly,  citoyen,”  replied  Desgas. 

*•  As  soon  as  any  of  the  men  have  sighted  a stranger, 
two  of  them  are  to  keep  him  in  view.  The  man  who 
loses  sight  of  the  tall  stranger,  after  he  is  once  seen,  will 
pay  for  his  negligence  with  his  life ; but  one  man  is  to 
ride  straight  back  here  and  report  to  me.  Is  that 
clear?” 

“Absolutely  clear,  citoyen.” 

“Very  well,  then.  Go  and  see  Jutley  at  once.  See 
the  reinforcements  start  off  for  the  patrol  duty,  then  ask 
the  captain  to  let  you  have  half-a-dozen  more  men  and 
bring  them  here  with  you.  You  can  be  back  in  ten 
minutes.  Go — ” 

Desgas  saluted  and  went  to  the  door. 

As  Marguerite,  sick  with  horror,  listened  to  Chauvelin’s 
directions  to  his  underling,  the  whole  of  the  plan  for 
the  capture  of  the  Scariet  Pimpernel  became  appallingly 
clear  to  her.  Chauvelin  wished  that  the  fugitives  should 
be  left  in  false  security,  waiting  in  their  hidden  retreat 
until  Percy  joined  them.  Then  the  daring  plotter  was 
to  be  surrounded  and  caught  red-handed,  in  the  very 
act  of  aiding  and  abetting  royalists,  who  were  traitors  to 
the  republic.  Thus,  if  his  capture  were  noised  abroad, 
even  the  British  Government  could  not  legally  protest 
in  his  favour;  having  plotted  with  the  enemies  of  the 


234  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

French  Government,  France  had  the  right  to  put  him 
to  death. 

Escape  for  him  and  them  would  be  impossible.  All 
the  roads  patrolled  and  watched,  the  trap  well  set,  the 
net,  wide  at  present,  but  drawing  together  tighter  and 
tighter,  until  it  closed  upon  the  daring  plotter,  whose 
superhuman  cunning  even,  could  not  rescue  him  from  its 
meshes  now. 

Desgas  was  about  to  go,  but  Chauvelin  once  more 
called  him  back.  Marguerite  vaguely  wondered  what 
further  devilish  plans  he  could  have  formed,  in  order 
to  entrap  one  brave  man,  alone,  against  two-score  of 
others.  She  looked  at  him  as  he  turned  to  speak  to 
Desgas ; she  could  just  see  his  face  beneath  the  broad- 
brimmed  cure's  hat.  There  was  at  that  moment  so 
much  deadly  hatred,  such  fiendish  malice  in  the  thin 
face  and  pale,  small  eyes,  that  Marguerite’s  last  hope 
died  in  her  heart,  for  she  felt  that  from  this  man  she 
could  expect  no  mercy. 

“ I had  forgotten,”  repeated  Chauvelin,  with  a weird 
chuckle,  as  he  rubbed  his  bony,  talon-like  hands  one 
against  the  other,  with  a gesture  of  fiendish  satisfaction. 
“The  tall  stranger  may  show  fight.  In  any  case  no 
shooting,  remember,  except  as  a last  resort.  I want 
that  tall  stranger  alive  ...  if  possible.” 

He  laughed,  as  Dante  has  told  us  that  the  devils  laugh 
at  sight  of  the  torture  of  the  damned.  Marguerite  had 
thought  that  by  now  she  had  lived  through  the  whole 
gamut  of  horror  and  anguish  that  human  heart  could 
bear ; yet  now,  when  Desgas  left  the  house,  and  she  re- 
mained alone  in  this  lonely,  squalid  room,  with  that 
fiend  for  company,  she  felt  as  if  all  that  she  had 
suffered  was  nothing  compared  with  this.  He  con- 
tinued to  laugh  and  chuckle  to  himself  for  a while, 


THE  DEATH-TRAP 


*35 

rubbing  his  hands  together  in  anticipation  of  his 
triumph. 

His  plans  were  well  laid,  and  he  might  well  triumph ! 
not  a loophole  was  left,  through  which  the  bravest,  the 
most  cunning  man  might  escape.  Every  road  guarded, 
every  corner  watched,  and  in  that  lonely  hut  somewhere 
on  the  coast,  a small  band  of  fugitives  waiting  for  their 
rescuer,  and  leading  him  to  his  death — nay ! to  worse 
than  death.  That  fiend  there,  in  a holy  man’s  garb, 
was  too  much  of  a devil  to  allow  a brave  man  to  die 
the  quick,  sudden  death  of  a soldier  at  the  post  of  duty. 

He,  above  all,  longed  to  have  the  cunning  enemy,  who 
had  so  long  baffled  him,  helpless  in  his  power ; he  wished 
to  gloat  over  him,  to  enjoy  his  downfall,  to  inflict  upon 
him  what  moral  and  mental  torture  a deadly  hatred  alone 
can  devise.  The  brave  eagle,  captured,  and  with  noble 
wings  clipped,  was  doomed  to  endure  the  gnawing  of 
the  rat.  And  she,  his  wife,  who  loved  him,  and  who 
had  brought  him  to  this,  could  do  nothing  to  help  him. 

Nothing,  save  to  hope  for  death  by  his  side,  and  for 
one  brief  moment  in  which  to  tell  him  that  her  love — 
whole,  true  and  passionate — was  entirely  his. 

Chauvelin  was  now  sitting  close  to  the  table ; he  had 
taken  off  his  hat,  and  Marguerite  could  just  see  the 
outline  of  his  thin  profile  and  pointed  chin,  as  he  bent 
over  his  meagre  supper.  He  was  evidently  quite  con- 
tented, and  awaited  events  with  perfect  calm ; he  even 
seemed  to  enjoy  Brogard’s  unsavoury  fare.  Marguerite 
wondered  how  so  much  hatred  could  lurk  in  one  human 
being  against  another. 

Suddenly,  as  she  watched  Chauvelin,  a sound  caught 
her  ear,  which  turned  her  very  heart  to  stone.  And  yet 
that  sound  was  not  calculated  to  inspire  anyone  with 
horror,  for  it  was  merely  the  cheerful  sound  of  a gay, 
fresh  voice  singing  lustily,  “God  save  the  King !" 


CHAPTER  XXV 


THE  EAGLE  AND  THE  FOX 

Marguerite’s  breath  stopped  short ; she  seemed  to  fee! 
her  very  life  standing  still  momentarily  whilst  she 
listened  to  that  voice  and  to  that  song.  In  the  singer 
she  had  recognised  her  husband.  Chauvelin,  too,  had 
heard  it,  for  he  darted  a quick  glance  towards  the  door, 
then  hurriedly  took  up  his  broad-brimmed  hat  and 
clapped  it  over  his  head. 

The  voice  drew  nearer;  for  one  brief  second  the  wild 
desire  seized  Marguerite  to  rush  down  the  steps  and  fly 
across  the  room,  to  stop  that  song  at  any  cost,  to  beg 
the  cheerful  singer  to  fly — fly  for  his  life,  before  it  be  too 
late.  She  checked  the  impulse  just  in  time.  Chauvelin 
would  stop  her  before  she  reached  the  door,  and,  more- 
over, she  had  no  idea  if  he  had  any  soldiers  posted 
within  his  call.  Her  impetuous  act  might  prove  the 
death-signal  of  the  man  she  would  have  died  to  save. 

**  Long  to  reign  over  us, 

God  save  the  King  1 ” 

^ang  the  voice  more  lustily  than  ever.  The  next 
moment  the  door  was  thrown  open  and  there  was  dead 
silence  for  a second  or  so. 

Marguerite  could  not  see  the  door:  she  held  her 
breath,  trying  to  imagine  what  was  happening. 

Percy  Blakeney  on  entering  had,  of  course,  at  once 
236 


THE  EAGLE  AND  THE  FOX  *37 

caught  sight  of  the  cure  at  the  table;  his  hesitation 
lasted  less  than  five  seconds,  the  next  moment  Mar- 
guerite saw  his  tall  figure  crossing  the  room,  whilst  he 
called  in  a loud,  cheerful  voice, — 

“Hello,  there!  no  one  about?  Where's  that  fool 
Brogard  ? ” 

He  wore  the  magnificent  coat  and  riding-suit  which 
he  had  on  when  Marguerite  last  saw  him  at  Richmond, 
so  many  hours  ago.  As  usual,  his  get-up  was  absolutely 
irreproachable,  the  fine  Mechlin  lace  at  his  neck  and 
wrists  was  immaculate  in  its  gossamer  daintiness,  his 
hands  looked  slender  and  white,  his  fair  hair  was  care- 
fully brushed,  and  he  carried  his  eyeglass  with  his  usual 
affected  gesture.  In  fact,  at  this  moment,  Sir  Percy 
Blakeney,  Bart.,  might  have  been  on  his  way  to  a 
garden-party  at  the  Prince  of  Wales’,  instead  of  deliber- 
ately, cold-bloodedly  running  his  head  in  a trap,  set  for 
him  by  his  deadliest  enemy. 

He  stood  for  a moment  in  the  middle  of  the  room, 
whilst  Marguerite,  absolutely  paralysed  with  horror, 
seemed  unable  even  to  breathe. 

Every  moment  she  expected  that  Chauvelin  would 
give  a signal,  that  the  place  would  fill  with  soldiers,  that 
she  would  rush  down  and  help  Percy  to  sell  his  life 
dearly.  As  he  stood  there,  suavely  unconscious,  she 
very  nearly  screamed  out  to  him, — 

“Fly,  Percy! — ’tis  your  deadly  enemy!— fly  before  it 
be  too  late ! ” 

But  she  had  not  time  even  to  do  that,  for  the  next 
moment  Blakeney  quietly  walked  to  the  table,  and, 
jovially  clapping  the  cure  on  the  back,  said  in  his  own 
drawly,  affected  way, — 

“ Odds  fish ! . . . er  . . . M.  Chauvelin.  . • , I 
vow  I never  thought  of  meeting  you  here." 


238  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

Chauvelin,  who  had  been  in  the  very  act  of  conveying 
loup  to  his  mouth,  fairly  choked.  His  thin  face  became 
absolutely  purple,  and  a violent  fit  of  coughing  saved 
this  cunning  representative  of  France  from  betraying 
the  most  boundless  surprise  he  had  ever  experienced. 
There  was  no  doubt  that  this  bold  move  on  the  part  of 
the  enemy  had  been  wholly  unexpected,  as  far  as  he  was 
concerned : and  the  daring  impudence  of  it  completely 
nonplussed  him  for  the  moment. 

Obviously  he  had  not  taken  the  precaution  of  having 
the  inn  surrounded  with  soldiers.  Blakeney  had  evi- 
dently guessed  that  much,  and  no  doubt  his  resourceful 
brain  had  already  formed  some  plan  by  which  he  could 
turn  this  unexpected  interview  to  account. 

Marguerite  up  in  the  loft  had  not  moved.  She  had 
made  a solemn  promise  to  Sir  Andrew  not  to  speak  to 
her  husband  before  strangers,  and  she  had  sufficient 
self-control  not  to  throw  herself  unreasoningly  and  im- 
pulsively across  his  plans.  To  sit  still  and  watch  these 
two  men  together  was  a terrible  trial  of  fortitude.  Mar- 
guerite had  heard  Chauvelin  give  the  orders  for  the 
patrolling  of  all  the  roads.  She  knew  that  if  Percy  now 
left  the  “Chat  Gris” — in  whichever  direction  he  happened 
to  go — he  could  not  go  far  without  being  sighted  by 
some  of  Captain  Jutley’s  men  on  patrol.  On  the  other 
hand,  if  he  stayed,  then  Desgas  would  have  time  to 
come  back  with  the  half-dozen  men  Chauvelin  had 
specially  ordered. 

The  trap  was  closing  in,  and  Marguerite  could  do 
nothing  but  watch  and  wonder.  The  two  men  looked 
such  a strange  contrast,  and  of  the  two  it  was  Chauvelin 
who  exhibited  a slight  touch  of  fear.  Marguerite  knew 
him  well  enough  to  guess  what  was  passing  in  his  mind. 
He  had  no  fear  for  his  own  person,  although  he  certainly 


THE  EAGLE  AND  THE  FOX  239 

was  alone  in  a lonely  inn  with  a man  who  was  powerfully 
built,  and  who  was  daring  and  reckless  beyond  the 
bounds  of  probability.  She  knew  that  Chauvelin  would 
willingly  have  braved  perilous  encounters  for  the  sake  of 
the  cause  he  had  at  heart,  but  what  he  did  fear  was  that 
this  impudent  Englishman  would,  by  knocking  him  down, 
double  his  own  chances  of  escape ; his  underlings  might 
not  succeed  so  well  in  capturing  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel, 
when  not  directed  by  the  cunning  hand  and  the  shrewd 
brain,  which  had  deadly  hate  for  an  incentive. 

Evidently,  however,  the  representative  of  the  French 
Government  had  nothing  to  fear  for  the  moment,  at  the 
hands  of  his  powerful  adversary.  Blakeney,  with  his 
most  inane  laugh  and  pleasant  good-nature,  was  solemnly 
patting  him  on  the  back. 

“ I am  so  demmed  sorry  ...”  he  was  saying  cheer- 
fully, “so  very  sorry  ...  I seem  to  have  upset  you 
, . . eating  soup,  too  . . . nasty,  awkward  thing,  soup 

. . . cr  . . . Begad ! — a friend  of  mine  died  once 

. . . er  . . . choked  . . . just  like  you  . . . with  a 

spoonful  of  soup.” 

And  he  smiled  shyly,  good-humouredly,  down  at 
Chauvelin. 

“ Odd’s  life  ! ” he  continued,  as  soon  as  the  latter  had 
somewhat  recovered  himself,  “beastly  hole  this  . . . 
ain’t  it  now  ? La  ! you  don’t  mind  ? ” he  added,  apolo- 
getically, as  he  sat  down  on  a chair  close  to  the  table 
and  drew  the  soup  tureen  towards  him.  “That  fool 
Brogard  seems  to  be  asleep  or  something.” 

There  was  a second  plate  on  the  table,  and  he  calmly 
helped  himself  to  soup,  then  poured  himself  out  a glass 
of  wine. 

For  a moment  Marguerite  wondered  what  Chauvelin 
would  do.  His  disguise  was  so  good  that  perhaps  he 


s40  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

meant,  on  recovering  himself,  to  deny  his  identity:  but 
Chauvelin  was  too  astute  to  make  such  an  obviously 
false  and  childish  move,  and  already  he  too  had  stretched 
out  his  hand  and  said  pleasantly, — 

“I  am  indeed  charmed  to  see  you,  Sir  Percy.  You 
must  excuse  me — h’m — I thought  you  the  other  side  of 
the  Channel.  Sudden  surprise  almost  took  my  breath 
away.” 

“La!”  said  Sir  Percy,  with  a good-humoured  grin, 
“ it  did  that  quite,  didn’t  it — er — M. — er — Chaubertin  ? ” 

“Pardon  me — Chauvelin.” 

“ I beg  pardon — a thousand  times.  Yes — Chauvelin 
of  course.  ...  Er  . . . I never  could  cotton  to  foreign 
names.  ...” 

He  was  calmly  eating  his  soup,  laughing  with  pleasant 
good-humour,  as  if  he  had  come  all  the  way  to  Calais 
for  the  express  purpose  of  enjoying  supper  at  this  filthy 
inn,  in  the  company  of  his  arch-enemy. 

For  the  moment  Marguerite  wondered  why  Percy  did 
not  knock  the  little  Frenchman  down  then  and  there — 
and  no  doubt  something  of  the  sort  must  have  darted 
through  his  mind,  for  every  now  and  then  his  lazy  eyes 
seemed  to  flash  ominously,  as  they  rested  on  the  slight 
figure  of  Chauvelin,  who  had  now  quite  recovered 
himself  and  was  also  calmly  eating  his  soup. 

But  the  keen  brain,  which  had  planned  and  carried 
through  so  many  daring  plots,  was  too  far-seeing  to  take 
unnecessary  risks.  This  place,  after  all,  might  be  infested 
with  spies ; the  innkeeper  might  be  in  Chauvelin’s  pay.. 
One  call  on  Chauvelin’s  part  might  bring  twenty  men 
about  Blakeney’s  ears  for  aught  he  knew,  and  he  might 
be  caught  and  trapped  before  he  could  help  or,  at  least, 
warn  the  fugitives.  This  he  would  not  risk ; he  meant 
to  help  the  others,  to  get  them  safely  away ; for  he  had 


THE  EAGLE  AND  THE  FOX  241 

pledged  his  word  to  them,  and  his  word  he  would  keep. 
And  whilst  he  ate  and  chatted,  he  thought  and  planned, 
whilst,  up  in  the  loft,  the  poor,  anxious  woman  racked 
her  brain  as  to  what  she  should  do,  and  endured  agonies 
of  longing  to  rush  down  to  him,  yet  not  daring  to  move 
for  fear  of  upsetting  his  plans. 

“I  didn’t  know,”  Blakeney  was  saying  jovially,  “that 
you  . . . er  . . . were  in  holy  orders.” 

“I  . . . er  . . . hem  . . .”  stammered  Chauvelin. 
The  calm  impudence  of  his  antagonist  had  evidently 
thrown  him  off  his  usual  balance. 

“But,  la!  I should  have  known  you  anywhere,”  con- 
tinued Sir  Percy,  placidly,  as  he  poured  himself  out 
another  glass  of  wine,  “ although  the  wig  and  hat  have 
changed  you  a bit.” 

“ Do  you  think  so? ” 

“ Lud ! they  alter  a man  so  . . . but  . . . begad ! I 
hope  you  don’t  mind  my  having  made  the  remark  ? . . . 
Demmed  bad  form  making  remarks.  ...  I hope  you 
don’t  mind  ? ” 

“ No,  no,  not  at  all — hem  ! I hope  Lady  Blakeney 
is  well,”  said  Chauvelin,  hurriedly  changing  the  topic  of 
conversation. 

Blakeney,  with  much  deliberation,  finished  his  plate  of 
soup,  drank  his  glass  of  wine,  and,  momentarily,  it  seemed 
to  Marguerite  as  if  he  glanced  quickly  all  round  the 
room. 

“ Quite  well,  thank  you,”  he  said  at  last,  drily.  There 
was  a pause,  during  which  Marguerite  could  watch  these 
two  antagonists  who,  evidently  in  their  minds,  were 
measuring  themselves  against  one  another.  She  could 
see  Percy  almost  full  face  where  he  sat  at  the  table  not 
ten  yards  from  where  she  herself  was  crouching,  puzzled, 
not  knowing  what  to  do,  or  what  she  should  think.  She 
Q 


242  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

had  quite  controlled  her  impulse  by  now  of  rushing  down 
and  disclosing  herself  to  her  husband  A man  capable 
of  acting  a part,  in  the  way  he  was  doing  at  the  present 
moment,  did  not  need  a woman’s  word  to  warn  him  to 
be  cautious. 

Marguerite  indulged  in  the  luxury,  dear  to  every 
tender  woman’s  heart,  of  looking  at  the  man  she  loved. 
She  looked  through  the  tattered  curtain,  across  at  the 
handsome  face  of  her  husband,  in  whose  lazy  blue  eyes, 
and  behind  whose  inane  smile,  she  could  now  so  plainly 
see  the  strength,  energy,  and  resourcefulness  which  had' 
caused  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel  to  be  reverenced  and 
trusted  by  his  followers.  “There  are  nineteen  of  us 
ready  to  lay  down  our  lives  for  your  husband,  Lady 
Blakeney,”  Sir  Andrew  had  said  to  her;  and  as  she 
looked  at  the  forehead,  low,  but  square  and  broad,  the 
eyes,  blue,  yet  deep-set  and  intense,  the  whole  aspect  of 
the  man,  of  indomitable  energy,  hiding,  behind  a perfectly 
acted  comedy,  his  almost  superhuman  strength  of  will 
and  marvellous  ingenuity,  she  understood  the  fascination 
which  he  exercised  over  his  followers,  for  had  he  not  also 
cast  his  spells  over  her  heart  and  her  imagination  ? 

Chauvelin,  who  was  trying  to  conceal  his  impatience 
beneath  his  usual  urbane  manner,  took  a quick  look  at 
his  watch.  Desgas  should  not  be  long : another  two  or 
three  minutes,  and  this  impudent  Englishman  would  be 
secure  in  the  keeping  of  half  a dozen  of  Captain  Jutley's 
most  trusted  men. 

“You  are  on  your  way  to  Paris,  Sir  Percy?”  he  asked 
carelessly. 

“Odd’s  life,  no,”  replied  Blakeney,  with  a laugh. 
“Only  as  far  as  Lille — not  Paris  for  me  . . . beastly 
uncomfortable  place  Paris,  just  now  ...  eh,  Monsieur 
Chaubertin  . . . beg  pardon  . . . Chauvelin ! ” 


THE  EAGLE  AND  THE  FOX  243 

“Not  for  an  English  gentleman  like  yourself,  Sir 
Percy,”  rejoined  Chauvelin,  sarcastically,  “ who  take  no 
interest  in  the  conflict  that  is  raging  there.” 

“ La ! you  see  it’s  no  business  of  mine,  and  our 
demmed  government  is  all  on  your  side  of  the  business. 
Old  Pitt  daren’t  say  ‘Bo’  to  a goose.  You  are  in  a 
hurry,  sir,”  he  added,  as  Chauvelin  once  again  took  out 
his  watch ; “ an  appointment,  perhaps.  . . . I pray  you 
take  no  heed  of  me.  . . . My  time’s  my  own.” 

He  rose  from  the  table  and  dragged  a chair  to  the 
hearth.  Once  more  Marguerite  was  terribly  tempted  to 
go  to  him,  for  time  was  getting  on ; Desgas  might  be 
back  at  any  moment  with  his  men.  Percy  did  not  know 
that  and  ...  oh  ! how  horrible  it  all  was — and  how 
helpless  she  felt. 

“I  am  in  no  hurry,”  continued  Percy,  pleasantly, 
“ but,  la  ! I don’t  want  to  spend  any  more  time  than  I 
can  help  in  this  God-forsaken  hole ! But,  begad  ! sir,” 
he  added,  as  Chauvelin  had  surreptitiously  looked  at  his 
watch  for  the  third  time,  “that  watch  of  yours  won’t  go 
any  faster  for  all  the  looking  you  give  it.  You  are 
expecting  a friend,  maybe?” 

“Aye — a friend  ! ” 

“Not  a lady — I trust,  Monsieur  1’AbW,”  laughed 
Blakeney;  “surely  the  holy  Church  does  not  allow? 
. . . eh  ? . . . what ! But,  I say,  come  by  the  fire  . . . 
it’s  getting  demmed  cold.” 

He  kicked  the  fire  with  the  heel  of  his  boot,  making 
the  logs  blaze  in  the  old  hearth.  He  seemed  in  no 
hurry  to  go,  and  apparently  was  quite  unconscious  of 
his  immediate  danger.  He  dragged  another  chair  to  the 
fire,  and  Chauvelin,  whose  impatience  was  by  now  quite 
beyond  control,  sat  down  beside  the  hearth,  in  such  a 
way  as  to  command  a view  of  the  door.  Desga*  had 


244  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

been  gone  nearly  a quarter  of  an  hour.  It  was  quite 
plain  to  Marguerite's  aching  senses,  that  as  soon  as  he 
arrived,  Chauvelin  would  abandon  all  his  other  plans 
with  regard  to  the  fugitives,  and  capture  this  impudent 
Scarlet  Pimpernel  at  once. 

“ Hey,  M.  Chauvelin,”  the  latter  was  saying  airily, 
“ tell  me,  I pray  you,  is  your  friend  pretty  ? Demmcd 
smart  these  little  French  women  sometimes — what? 
But  I protest  I need  not  ask,”  he  added,  as  he  carelessly 
strode  back  towards  the  supper-table.  “In  matters  of 
taste  the  Church  has  never  been  backward.  ...  Eh  ? ” 

But  Chauvelin  was  not  listening.  His  every  faculty 
was  now  concentrated  on  that  door  through  which 
presently  Desgas  would  enter.  Marguerite's  thoughts, 
too,  were  centred  there,  for  her  ears  had  suddenly 
caught,  through  the  stillness  of  the  night,  the  sound  of 
numerous  and  measured  treads  some  distance  away. 

It  was  Desgas  and  his  men.  Another  three  minutes 
and  they  would  be  here ! Another  three  minutes  and 
the  awful  thing  would  have  occurred : the  brave  eagle 
will  have  fallen  in  the  ferret’s  trap  ! She  would  have 
moved  now  and  screamed,  but  she  dared  not;  for 
whilst  she  heard  the  soldiers  approaching,  she  was 
looking  at  Percy  and  watching  his  every  movement. 
He  was  standing  by  the  table  whereon  the  remnants  of 
the  supper,  plates,  glasses,  spoons,  salt  and  pepper-pots 
were  scattered  pell-mell.  His  back  was  turned  to 
Chauvelin  and  he  was  still  prattling  along  in  his  own 
affected  and  inane  way,  but  from  his  pocket  he  had 
taken  his  snuff-box,  and  quickly  and  suddenly  he  emptied 
the  contents  of  the  pepper-pot  into  it. 

Then  he  again  turned  with  an  inane  laugh  ta 
Chauvelin, — 

“ Eh  ? Did  you  speak,  sir  ? ” 


THE  EAGLE  AND  THE  FOX  245 

Chauvelin  had  been  too  intent  on  listening  to  the 
sound  of  those  approaching  footsteps,  to  notice  what  his 
cunning  adversary  had  been  doing.  He  now  pulled 
himself  together,  trying  to  look  unconcerned  in  the  very 
midst  of  his  anticipated  triumph. 

“ No,”  he  said  presently,  “ that  is — as  you  were  saying, 
Sir  Percy—?” 

“ I was  saying,”  said  Blakeney,  going  up  to  Chauvelin, 
by  the  fire,  “ that  the  Jew  in  Piccadilly  has  sold  me 
better  snuff  this  time  than  I have  ever  tasted.  Will  you 
honour  me,  Monsieur  l’Abb£  ? ” 

He  stood  close  to  Chauvelin  in  his  own  careless, 
dibonnatr  way,  holding  out  his  snuff-box  to  his  arch- 
enemy. 

Chauvelin,  who,  as  he  told  Marguerite  once,  had  seen 
a trick  or  two  in  his  day,  had  never  dreamed  of  this  one. 
With  one  ear  fixed  on  those  fast-approaching  footsteps, 
one  eye  turned  to  that  door  where  Desgas  and  his  men 
would  presently  appear,  lulled  into  false  security  by  the 
impudent  Englishman’s  airy  manner,  he  never  even  re- 
motely guessed  the  trick  which  was  being  played  upon 
him. 

He  took  a pinch  of  snuff. 

Only  he,  who  has  ever  by  accident  sniffed  vigorously  a 
dose  of  pepper,  can  have  the  faintest  conception  of  the 
hopeless  condition  in  which  such  a sniff  would  reduce 
any  human  being. 

Chauvelin  felt  as  if  his  head  would  burst — sneeze  after 
sneeze  seemed  nearly  to  choke  him ; he  was  blind,  deaf, 
and  dumb  for  the  moment,  and  during  that  moment 
Blakeney  quietly,  without  the  slightest  haste,  took  up 
his  hat,  took  some  money  out  of  his  pocket,  which  he 
left  on  the  table,  then  calmly  stalked  out  of  the  room ! 


CHAPTER  XXVI 


THE  JEW 

It  took  Marguerite  some  time  to  collect  her  scattered 
senses ; the  whole  of  this  last  short  episode  had  taken 
place  in  less  than  a minute,  and  Desgas  and  the  soldiers 
were  still  about  two  hundred  yards  away  from  the  “ Chat 
Gris.” 

When  she  realised  what  had  happened,  a curious  mix- 
ture of  joy  and  wonder  filled  her  heart.  It  all  was  so 
neat,  so  ingenious.  Chauvelin  was  still  absolutely  help- 
less, far  more  so  than  he  could  even  have  been  under  a 
blow  from  the  fist,  for  now  he  could  neither  see,  nor 
hear,  nor  speak,  whilst  his  cunning  adversary  had  quietly 
slipped  through  his  fingers. 

Blakeney  was  gone,  obviously  to  try  and  join  ^he 
fugitives  at  the  Pere  Blanchard’s  hut.  For  the  moment, 
true,  Chauvelin  was  helpless ; for  the  moment  the 
daring  Scarlet  Pimpernel  had  not  been  caught  by 
Desgas  and  his  men.  But  all  the  roads  and  the  beach 
were  patrolled.  Every  place  was  watched,  and  every 
stranger  kept  in  sight.  How  far  could  Percy  go,  thus 
arrayed  in  his  gorgeous  clothes,  without  being  sighted 
and  followed  ? 

Now  she  blamed  herself  terribly  for  not  having  gone 
down  to  him  sooner,  and  given  him  that  word  of  warning 
and  of  love  which,  perhaps,  after  all,  he  needed.  He 
could  not  know  of  the  orders  which  Chauvelin  had  given 
for  his  capiure,  and  even  now,  perhaps  . . . 

M 


247 


THE  JEW 

But  before  all  these  horrible  thoughts  had  taken  con- 
crete form  in  her  brain,  she  heard  the  grounding  of  arms 
outside,  close  to  the  door,  and  Desgas’  voice  shouting 
“ Halt ! ” to  his  men. 

Chauvelin  had  partially  recovered ; his  sneezing  had 
become  less  violent,  and  he  had  struggled  to  his  feet. 
He  managed  to  reach  the  door  just  as  Desgas’  knock 
was  heard  on  the  outside. 

Chauvelin  threw  open  the  door,  and  before  his  secre- 
tary could  say  a word,  he  had  managed  to  stammer 
between  two  sneezes — 

“The  tail  stranger  — quick!  — did  any  of  you  see 
him  ? ” 

“ Where,  citoyen  ? ” asked  Desgas,  in  surprise. 

“ Here,  man ! through  that  door ! not  five  minutes 
ago.” 

“ We  saw  nothing,  citoyen  ! The  moon  is  not  yet  up, 
and  . . .” 

“And  you  are  just  five  minutes  too  late,  my  friend,” 
said  Chauvelin,  with  concentrated  fury. 

“Citoyen  . . . I . . .” 

••You  did  what  I ordered  you  to  do,”  said  Chauvelin, 
with  impatience.  “ I know  that,  but  you  were  a precious 
long  time  about  it.  Fortunately,  there’s  not  much  harm 
done,  or  it  had  fared  ill  with  you,  Citoyen  Desgas.” 

Desgas  turned  a little  pale.  There  was  so  much  rage 
and  hatred  in  his  superior’s  whole  attitude. 

“ The  tall  stranger,  citoyen — ” he  stammered. 

“Was  here,  in  this  room,  five  minutes  ago,  having 
supper  at  that  table.  Damn  his  impudence  ! For 
obvious  reasons,  I dared  not  tackle  him  alone.  Brogard 
is  too  big  a fool,  and  that  cursed  Englishman  appears  to 
have  the  strength  of  a bullock,  and  so  he  slipped  away 
under  your  very  nose.” 


248  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

**  He  cannot  go  far  without  being  sighted,  citoyen." 

“Ah?” 

“Captain  Jutley  sent  forty  men  as  reinforcements  foi 
the  patrol  duty : twenty  went  down  to  the  beach.  He 
again  assured  me  that  the  watch  has  been  constant  all 
day,  and  that  no  stranger  could  possibly  get  to  the  beach, 
or  reach  a boat,  without  being  sighted.” 

“ That’s  good. — Do  the  men  know  their  work  ? ” 

“ They  have  had  very  clear  orders,  citoyen : and  I 
myself  spoke  to  those  who  were  about  to  start.  They 
are  to  shadow — as  secretly  as  possible — any  stranger 
they  may  see,  especially  if  he  be  tall,  or  stoop  as  if  he 
would  disguise  his  height.” 

“ In  no  case  to  detain  such  a person,  of  course,”  said 
Chauvelin,  eagerly.  “ That  impudent  Scarlet  Pimpernel 
would  slip  through  clumsy  fingers.  We  must  let  him 
get  to  the  P6re  Blanchard’s  hut  now;  there  surround 
and  capture  him.” 

“ The  men  understand  that,  citoyen,  and  also  that,  as 
soon  as  a tall  stranger  has  been  sighted,  he  must  be 
shadowed,  whilst  one  man  is  to  turn  straight  back  and 
report  to  you.” 

“ That  is  right,”  said  Chauvelin,  rubbing  his  hands, 
well  pleased. 

“ I have  further  news  for  you,  citoyen.” 

“ What  is  it?” 

“A  tall  Englishman  had  a long  conversation  about 
three-quarters  of  an  hour  ago  with  a Jew,  Reuben  by 
name,  who  lives  not  ten  paces  from  here.” 

“Yes — and?”  queried  Chauvelin,  impatiently. 

“The  conversation  was  all  about  a horse  and  cart, 
which  the  tall  Englishman  wished  to  hire,  and  which 
was  to  have  been  ready  for  him  by  eleven  o’clock.” 

“ It  is  past  that  now.  Where  does  that  Reuben  live  ? " 


249 


THE  JEW 

M A few  minutes’  walk  from  this  door.” 

11  Send  one  of  the  men  to  find  out  if  the  stranger  has 
driven  off  in  Reuben’s  cart.” 

“ Yes,  citoyen.” 

Desgas  went  to  give  the  necessary  orders  to  one  of 
the  men.  Not  a word  of  this  conversation  between  him 
and  Chauvelin  had  escaped  Marguerite,  and  every  word 
they  had  spoken  seemed  to  strike  at  her  heart,  with 
terrible  hopelessness  and  dark  foreboding. 

She  had  come  all  this  way,  and  with  such  high  hopes 
and  firm  determination  to  help  her  husband,  and  so  far 
she  had  been  able  to  do  nothing,  but  to  watch,  with  a 
heart  breaking  with  anguish,  the  meshes  of  the  deadly 
aet  closing  round  the  daring  Scarlet  Pimpernel. 

He  could  not  now  advance  many  steps,  without  spying 
eyes  to  track  and  denounce  him.  Her  own  helplessness 
struck  her  with  the  terrible  sense  of  utter  disappoint- 
ment. The  possibility  of  being  of  the  slightest  use  to  her 
husband  had  become  almost  nil,  and  her  only  hope 
rested  in  being  allowed  to  share  his  fate,  whatever  it 
might  ultimately  be. 

For  the  moment,  even  her  chance  of  ever  seeing  the 
man  she  loved  again,  had  become  a remote  one.  Still, 
she  was  determined  to  keep  a close  watch  over  his 
enemy,  and  a vague  hope  filled  her  heart,  that  whilst  she 
kept  Chauvelin  in  sight,  Percy’s  fate  might  still  be  hang- 
ing in  the  balance. 

Desgas  had  left  Chauvelin  moodily  pacing  up  and 
down  the  room,  whilst  he  himself  waited  outside  for  the 
return  of  the  man,  whom  he  had  sent  in  search  of 
Reuben.  Thus  several  minutes  went  by.  Chauvelin 
was  evidently  devoured  with  impatience.  Apparently 
he  trusted  no  one : this  last  trick  played  upon  him  by  the 
daring  Scarlet  Pimpernel  had  made  him  suddenly  doubt- 


250  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

ful  of  success,  unless  he  himself  was  there  to  watch, 
direct  and  superintend  the  capture  of  this  impudent 
Englishman. 

About  five  minutes  later,  Desgas  returned,  followed  by 
an  elderly  Jew.  in  a dirty,  threadbare  gaberdine,  worn 
greasy  across  the  shoulders.  His  red  hair,  which  he  wore 
after  the  fashion  of  the  Polish  Jews,  with  the  corkscrew 
curls  each  side  of  his  face,  was  plentifully  sprinkled  with 
grey— a general  coating  of  grime,  about  his  cheeks  and 
his  chin,  gave  him  a peculiarly  dirty  and  loathsome 
appearance.  He  had  the  habitual  stoop,  those  of  his 
race  affected  in  mock  humility  in  past  centuries,  before 
the  dawn  of  equality  and  freedom  in  matters  of  faith, 
and  he  walked  behind  Desgas  with  the  peculiar  shuffling 
gait,  which  has  remained  the  characteristic  of  the  Jew 
trader  in  continental  Europe  to  this  day. 

Chauvelin,  who  had  all  the  Frenchman’s  prejudice 
against  the  despised  race,  motioned  to  the  fellow  to  keep 
at  a respectful  distance.  The  group  of  the  three  men 
were  standing  just  underneath  the  hanging  oil-lamp,  and 
Marguerite  had  a clear  view  of  them  all. 

“ Is  this  the  man  ? ” asked  Chauvelin. 

“No,  citoyen,”  replied  Desgas,  “ Reuben  could  not  be 
found,  so  presumably  his  cart  has  gone  with  the  stranger: 
but  this  man  here  seems  to  know  something,  which  he  is 
willing  to  sell  for  a consideration.” 

“ Ah ! ” said  Chauvelin,  turning  away  with  disgust 
from  the  loathsome  specimen  of  humanity  before  him. 

The  Jew,  with  characteristic  patience,  stood  humbly 
on  one  side,  leaning  on  a thick  knotted  staff,  his  greasy, 
broad-brimmed  hat  casting  a deep  shadow  over  his  grimy 
face,  waiting  for  the  noble  Excellency  to  deign  to  put 
some  questions  to  him. 

“The  citoyen  tells  me,”  said  Chauvelin  peremptorily 


251 


THE  JEW 

to  him,  **  that  you  know  something  of  my  friend,  the  tall 
Englishman,  whom  I desire  to  meet.  . . . Morbleui 
keep  your  distance,  man,”  he  added  hurriedly,  as  the 
Jew  took  a quick  and  eager  step  forward. 

“Yes,  your  Excellency,”  replied  the  Jew,  who  spoke 
the  language  with  that  peculiar  lisp,  which  denotes  Eastern 
origin,  “ I and  Reuben  Goldstein  met  a tall  Englishman, 
on  the  road,  close  by  here  this  evening.” 

“ Did  you  speak  to  him  ? ” 

“ He  spoke  to  us,  your  Excellency.  He  wanted  to 
know  if  he  could  hire  a horse  and  cart  to  go  down  along 
the  St  Martin  Road,  to  a place  he  wanted  to  reach 
to-night.” 

“What  did  you  say?” 

“I  did  not  say  anything,”  said  the  Jew  in  an  injured 
tone,  “ Reuben  Goldstein,  that  accursed  traitor,  that  son 
of  Belial 

“Cut  that  short,  man,” interrupted  Chauvelin,  roughly, 
“and  go  on  with  your  story.” 

“ He  took  the  words  out  of  my  mouth,  your  Excellency; 
when  I was  about  to  offer  the  wealthy  Englishman  my 
horse  and  cart,  to  take  him  wheresoever  he  chose, 
Reuben  had  already  spoken,  and  offered  his  half-starved 
nag,  and  his  broken-down  cart.” 

“ And  what  did  the  Englishman  do  ? ” 

“ He  listened  to  Reuben  Goldstein,  your  Excellency, 
and  put  his  hand  in  his  pocket  then  and  there,  and 
took  out  a handful  of  gold,  which  he  showed  to  that 
descendant  of  Belzebub,  telling  him  that  all  that  would 
be  his,  if  the  horse  and  cart  were  ready  for  him  by 
eleven  o'clock.” 

“ And,  of  course,  the  horse  and  cart  were  ready  ? ” 

“ Well ! they  were  ready  in  a manner,  so  to  speak, 
your  Excellency.  Reuben's  nag  was  lame  as  usual ; she 


252  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

refused  to  budge  at  first.  It  was  only  after  a time  and 
with  plenty  of  kxks,  that  she  at  last  could  be  made  to 
move,”  said  the  Jew  with  a malicious  chuckle. 

“Then  they  started?” 

“Yes,  they  started  about  five  minutes  ago.  I was 
disgusted  with  that  stranger’s  folly.  An  Englishman 
too ! — He  ought  to  have  known  Reuben’s  nag  was  not 
fit  to  drive.” 

“ But  if  he  had  no  choice  ? ** 

“No  choice,  your  Excellency?’*  protested  the  Jew,  in 
a rasping  voice,  “ did  I not  repeat  to  him  a dozen  times, 
that  my  horse  and  cart  would  take  him  quicker,  and 
more  comfortably  than  Reuben’s  bag  of  bones.  He 
would  not  listen.  Reuben  is  such  a liar,  and  has  such 
insinuating  ways.  The  stranger  was  deceived.  If  he 
was  in  a hurry,  he  would  have  had  better  value  for  his 
money  by  taking  my  cart.” 

“ You  have  a horse  and  cart  too,  then  ? ” asked 
Chauvelin,  peremptorily. 

“Aye!  that  I have,  your  Excellency,  and  if  your 
Excellency  wants  to  drive  ...” 

“ Do  you  happen  to  know  which  way  my  friend  went 
in  Reuben  Goldstein’s  cart  ? ” 

Thoughtfully  the  Jew  rubbed  his  dirty  chin.  Mar- 
guerite’s heart  was  beating  well-nigh  to  bursting.  She 
had  heard  the  peremptory  question ; she  looked  anxiously 
at  the  Jew,  but  could  not  read  his  face  beneath  the 
shadow  of  his  broad-brimmed  hat.  Vaguely  she  felt 
somehow  as  if  he  held  Percy’s  fate  in  his  long,  dirty 
hands. 

There  was  a long  pause,  whilst  Chauvelin  frowned 
impatiently,  at  the  stooping  figure  before  him  : at  last  the 
Jew  slowly  put  his  hand  in  his  breast  pocket,  and  drew 
out  from  its  capacious  depths,  a number  of  silver  coins 


I 


THE  JEW  253 

He  gazed  at  them  thoughtfully,  then  remarked,  in  a 
quiet  tone  of  voice, — 

“This  is  what  the  tall  stranger  gave  me,  when  he  drove 
away  with  Reuben,  for  holding  my  tongue  about  him, 
and  his  doings.” 

Chauvelin  shrugged  his  shoulders  impatiently. 

“ How  much  is  there  there  ? ” he  asked. 

“ Twenty  francs,  your  Excellency,”  replied  the  Jew, 
**  and  I have  been  an  honest  man  all  my  life.” 

Chauvelin  without  further  comment  took  a few  pieces 
of  gold  out  of  his  own  pocket,  and  leaving  them  in  the 
palm  of  his  hand,  he  allowed  them  to  jingle  as  he  held 
them  out  towards  the  Jew. 

“ How  many  gold  pieces  are  there  in  the  palm  of  my 
hand  ?”  he  asked  quietly. 

Evidently  he  had  no  desire  to  terrorize  the  man,  but 
to  conciliate  him,  for  his  own  purposes,  for  his  manner 
was  pleasant  and  suave.  No  doubt  he  feared  that 
threats  of  the  guillotine,  and  various  other  persuasive 
methods  of  that  type,  might  addle  the  old  man’s  brains, 
and  that  he  would  be  more  likely  to  be  useful  through 
greed  of  gain,  than  through  terror  of  death. 

The  eyes  of  the  Jew  shot  a quick,  keen  glance  at  the 
gold  in  his  interlocutor’s  hand. 

“At  least  five,  I should  say,  your  Excellency,”  he 
replied  obsequiously. 

“ Enough,  do  you  think,  to  loosen  that  honest  tongue 
of  yours  ? ” 

“ What  does  your  Excellency  wish  to  know  ? ” 

“ Whether  your  horse  and  cart  can  take  me  to  where 
I can  find  my  friend  the  tall  stranger,  who  has  driven  ofl 
In  Reuben  Goldstein’s  cart  ? ” 

“ My  horse  and  cart  can  take  your  Honour  there,  where 
you  please.” 


254  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

“ To  a place  called  the  Pire  Blanchard’s  hut  ? ” 

“Your  Honour  has  guessed?”  said  the  Jew  is 
astonishment. 

“ You  know  the  place  ? " 

“ I know  it,  your  Honour.” 

“ Which  road  leads  to  it  ? ” 

“ The  St  Martin  Road,  your  Honour,  then  a footpath 
from  there  to  the  cliffs.” 

“You  know  the  road?”  repeated  Chauvelin,  roughly. 

“ Every  stone,  every  blade  of  grass,  your  Honour,” 
replied  the  Jew  quietly. 

Chauvelin  without  another  word  threw  the  five  pieces 
of  gold  one  by  one  before  the  Jew,  who  knelt  down,  and 
on  his  hands  and  knees  struggled  to  collect  them.  One 
rolled  away,  and  he  had  some  trouble  to  get  it,  for  it  a&d 
lodged  underneath  the  dresser.  Chauvelin  quietly 
waited  while  the  old  man  scrambled  on  the  floor,  to  find 
the  piece  of  gold. 

When  the  Jew  was  again  on  his  feet,  Chauvelin  said, — 

“ How  soon  can  your  horse  and  cart  be  ready  ? ” 

“They  are  ready  now,  your  Honour.” 

“ Where  ? ” 

“Not  ten  metres  from  this  door.  Will  your 
Excellency  deign  to  look  ? ” 

“ I don't  want  to  see  it  How  far  can  you  drive  me 
in  it  ? ” 

“ As  far  as  the  P£re  Blanchard’s  hut,  your  Honour,  and 
further  than  Reuben’s  nag  took  your  friend.  I am  sure 
that,  not  two  leagues  from  here,  we  shall  come  across 
that  wily  Reuben,  his  nag,  his  cart  and  the  tall  stranger 
all  in  a heap  in  the  middle  of  the  road.” 

“ How  far  is  the  nearest  village  from  here  ? ” 

“ On  the  road  which  the  Englishman  took,  Miquelon 
k the  nearest  village,  not  two  leagues  from  here.” 


THE  JEW  255 

44  There  he  could  get  fresh  conveyance,  if  he  wanted 
to  go  further  ? ” 

44  He  could — if  he  ever  got  so  far.” 

44  Can  you  ? ” 

“Will  your  Excellency  try?”  said  the  Jew  simply. 

44  That  is  my  intention,”  said  Chauvelin  very  quietly, 
M but  remember,  if  you  have  deceived  me,  I shall  tell 
off  two  of  my  most  stalwart  soldiers  to  give  you  such  a 
beating,  that  your  breath  will  perhaps  leave  your  ugly 
body  for  ever.  But  if  we  find  my  friend  the  tall 
Englishman,  either  on  the  road  or  at  the  P£re  Blanchard’s 
hut,  there  will  be  ten  more  gold  pieces  for  you.  Do  you 
accept  the  bargain  ? ” 

The  Jew  again  thoughtfully  rubbed  his  chin.  He 
looked  at  the  money  in  his  hand,  then  at  his  stern 
interlocutor,  and  at  Desgas,  who  had  stood  silently  be- 
hind him  all  this  while.  After  a moment’s  pause,  he 
said  deliberately, — 

44 1 accept.” 

44  Go  and  wait  outside  then,”  said  Chauvelin,  44  and 
remember  to  stick  to  your  bargain,  or  by  Heaven,  I will 
keep  to  mine.” 

With  a final,  most  abject  and  cringing  bow,  the  old 
Jew  shuffled  out  of  the  room.  Chauvelin  seemed 
pleased  with  his  interview,  for  he  rubbed  his  hands 
together,  with  that  usual  gesture  of  his,  of  malignant 
satisfaction. 

14  My  coat  and  boots,”  he  said  to  Desgas  at  last. 

Desgas  went  to  the  door,  and  apparently  gave  the 
necessary  orders,  for  presently  a soldier  entered,  carry- 
ing Chauvelin’s  coat,  boots,  and  hat. 

He  took  off  his  soutane,  beneath  which  he  was 
wearing  close-fitting  breeches  and  a cloth  waistcoat,  and 
began  changing  his  attire. 

44  You,  citoyen,  in  the  meanwhile,”  he  said  to  Desga* 


256  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

Mgo  back  to  Captain  Jutley  as  fast  as  you  can,  and 
tell  him  to  let  you  have  another  dozen  men,  and  bring 
them  with  you  along  the  St  Martin  Road,  where  I 
daresay  you  will  soon  overtake  the  Jew’s  cart  with 
myself  in  it.  There  will  be  hot  work  presently,  if  I 
mistake  not,  in  the  Pere  Blanchard’s  hut.  We  shall 
corner  our  game  there,  I’ll  warrant,  for  this  impudent 
Scarlet  Pimpernel  has  had  the  audacity  — or  the 
stupidity,  I hardly  know  which — to  adhere  to  his 
original  plans.  He  has  gone  to  meet  de  Tournay,  St 
Just  and  the  other  traitors,  which  for  the  moment,  I 
thought,  perhaps,  he  did  not  intend  to  do.  When  we 
find  them,  there  will  be  a band  of  desperate  men  at  bay. 
Some  of  our  men  will  I presume  be  put  hors  de  combat. 
These  royalists  are  good  swordsmen,  and  the  English- 
man is  devilish  cunning,  and  looks  very  powerful.  Still, 
we  shall  be  five  against  one  at  least.  You  can  follow 
the  cart  closely  with  your  men,  all  along  the  St  Martin 
Road,  through  Miquelon.  The  Englishman  is  ahead  of 
us,  and  not  likely  to  look  behind  him.” 

Whilst  he  gave  these  curt  and  concise  orders,  he  had 
completed  his  change  of  attire.  The  priest’s  costume 
had  been  laid  aside,  and  he  was  once  more  dressed  in 
his  usual  daik,  tight-fitting  clothes.  At  last  he  took  up 
his  hat. 

“ I shall  have  an  interesting  prisoner  to  deliver  into 
your  hands,”  he  said  with  a chuckle,  as  with  unwonted 
familiarity  he  took  Desgas’  arm,  and  led  him  towards 
the  door.  “We  won’t  kill  him  outright,  eh,  friend 
Desgas?  The  Pere  Blanchard’s  hut  is— an  I mistake 
not — a lonely  spot  upon  the  beach,  and  our  men  will 
enjoy  a bit  of  rough  sport  there  with  the  wounded  fox. 
Choose  your  men  well,  friend  Desgas  ...  of  the  sort 
who  would  enjoy  that  type  of  sport — eh  ? We  must  see 


2 57 


THE  JEW 

that  Scarlet  Pimpernel  wither  a bit — what  ? — shrink  and 
tremble,  eh?  . . . before  we  finally  . . .*■ — he  made  an 
expressive  gesture,  whilst  he  laughed  a low,  evil  laugh, 
which  filled  Marguerite’s  soul  with  sickening  horror. 

“ Choose  your  men  well,  Citoyen  Desgas,”  he  said 
once  more,  as  he  led  hit  secretary  finally  out  of  the 
room. 


CHAPTER  XXVII 


ON  THE  TRACK 

Never  for  a moment  did  Marguerite  Blakeney  hesitate. 
The  last  sounds  outside  the  “ Chat  Gris  ” had  died  away 
hi  the  night  She  had  heard  Desgas  giving  orders  to 
his  men,  and  then  starting  off  towards  the  fort,  to  get  a 
reinforcement  of  a dozen  more  men  : six  were  not 
thought  sufficient  to  capture  the  cunning  Englishman, 
whose  resourceful  brain  was  even  more  dangerous  than 
his  valour  and  his  strength. 

Then  a few  minutes  later,  she  heard  the  Jew's  husky 
voice,  again,  evidently  shouting  to  his  nag,  then  the 
rumble  of  wheels,  and  noise  of  a rickety  cart  bumping 
over  the  rough  road. 

Inside  the  inn,  everything  was  still.  Brogard  and  his 
wife,  terrified  of  Chauvelin,  had  given  no  sign  of  life; 
they  hoped  to  be  forgotten,  and  at  anyrate  to  remain 
unperceived : Marguerite  could  not  even  hear  their  usual 
volleys  of  muttered  oaths. 

She  waited  a moment  or  two  longer,  then  she  quietly 
slipped  down  the  broken  stairs,  wrapped  her  dark  cloak 
closely  round  her  and  slipped  out  of  the  inn. 

The  night  was  fairly  dark,  sufficiently  so  at  anyrate 
to  hide  her  dark  figure  from  view,  whilst  her  keen  ears 
kept  count  of  the  sound  of  the  cart  going  on  ahead.  She 
hoped  by  keeping  veil  within  the  shadow  of  the  ditches 
which  lined  the  road,  that  she  would  not  be  seen  by  Desgas1 


ON  THE  TRACK 


259 

men,  when  they  approached,  or  by  the  patrols,  which 
she  concluded  werr  still  on  duty. 

Thus  she  started  to  do  this,  the  last  stage  of  her  weary 
journey,  alone,  at  night,  and  on  foot.  Nearly  three 
leagues  to  Miquelon,  and  then  on  to  the  Pfcre  Blanchard’s 
hut,  wherever  that  fatal  spot  might  be,  probably  over 
rough  roads  : she  cared  not. 

The  Jew’s  nag  could  not  get  on  very  fast,  and  though 
she  was  weary  with  mental  fatigue  and  nerve  strain,  she 
knew  that  she  could  easily  keep  up  with  it,  on  a hilly 
road,  where  the  poor  beast,  who  was  sure  to  be  half- 
starved,  would  have  to  be  allowed  long  and  frequent 
rests.  The  road  lay  some  distance  from  the  sea, 
bordered  on  either  side  by  shrubs  and  stunted  trees, 
sparsely  covered  with  meagre  foliage,  all  turning  away 
from  the  North,  with  their  branches  looking  in  the  semi- 
darkness, like  stiff,  ghostly  hair,  blown  by  a perpetual 
wind. 

Fortunately,  the  moon  showed  no  desire  to  peep 
between  the  clouds,  and  Marguerite  hugging  the  edge 
of  the  road,  and  keeping  close  to  the  low  line  of  shrubs, 
was  fairly  safe  from  view.  Everything  around  her  was 
so  still : only  from  far,  very  far  away,  there  came  like  a 
long,  soft  moan,  the  sound  of  the  distant  sea. 

The  air  was  keen  and  full  of  brine ; after  that  enforced 
period  of  inactivity,  inside  the  evil-smelling,  squalid  inn, 
Marguerite  would  have  enjoyed  the  sweet  scent  of  this 
autumnal  night,  and  the  distant  melancholy  rumble  of 
the  waves ; she  would  have  revelled  in  the  calm  and 
stillness  of  this  lonely  spot,  a calm,  broken  only  at 
intervals  by  the  strident  and  mournful  cry  of  some 
distant  gull,  and  by  the  creaking  of  the  wheels,  some  way 
down  the  road : she  would  have  loved  the  cool  atmo- 
sphere, the  peaceful  immensity  of  Nature,  in  this  lonely 


260  the  scarlet  pimpernel 


part  of  the  coast : but  her  heart  was  too  full  of  cruel  fore* 
boding,  of  a great  ache  and  longing  a being,  who  had 
become  infinitely  dear  to  her. 

Her  feet  slipped  on  the  grassy  bank,  for  she  thought 
it  safest  not  to  walk  near  the  centre  of  the  road,  and  she 
found  it  difficult  to  keep  up  a sharp  pace  along  the 
muddy  incline.  She  even  thought  it  best  not  to  keep 
too  near  to  the  cart;  everything  was  so  still,  that  the 
rumble  of  the  wheels  could  not  fail  to  be  a safe 
guide. 

The  loneliness  was  absolute.  Already  the  few  dim 
lights  of  Calais  lay  far  behind,  and  on  this  road  there 
was  not  a sign  of  human  habitation,  not  even  the  hut  of 
a fisherman  or  of  a woodcutter  anywhere  near  * far  away 
on  her  right  was  the  edge  of  the  cliff,  below  it  the  rough 
beach,  against  which  the  incoming  tide  was  dashing  itself 
with  its  constant,  distant  murmur.  And  ahead  the 
rumble  of  the  wheels,  bearing  an  implacable  enemy  to  his 
triumph. 

Marguerite  wondered  at  what  particular  spot,  on  this 
lonely  coast,  Percy  could  be  at  this  moment  Not  very 
far  surely,  for  he  had  had  less  than  a quarter  of  an  hour’s 
start  of  Chauvelin.  She  wondered  if  he  knew,  that  in 
this  cool,  ocean-scented  bit  of  France,  there  lurked  many 
spies,  all  eager  to  sight  his  tall  figure,  to  track  him  to 
where  his  unsuspecting  friends  waited  for  him,  and  then, 
to  close  the  net  over  him  and  them. 

Chauvelin,  on  ahead,  jolted  and  jostled  in  the  Jew’s 
vehicle,  was  nursing  comfortable  thoughts.  He  rubbed 
his  hands  together,  with  content,  as  he  thought  of  the 
web  which  he  had  woven,  and  through  which  that 
ubiquitous  and  daring  Englishman  could  not  hope  to 
escape.  As  the  time  went  on,  and  the  old  Jew  drove 
him  leisurely  but  surely  along  the  dark  road,  he  felt  more 


ON  THE  TRACK 


261 


and  more  eager  for  the  grand  finale  of  this  exciting  chase 
after  the  mysterious  Scarlet  Pimpernel. 

The  capture  of  the  audacious  plotter  *<>uld  be  the 
finest  leaf  in  Citoyen  Chauvelin’s  wreath  of  glory. 
Caught,  red-handed,  on  the  spot,  in  the  very  act  of 
aiding  and  abetting  the  traitors  against  the  Republic  of 
France,  the  Englishman  could  claim  no  protection  from 
his  own  country.  Chauvelin,  had,  in  any  case,  fully 
made  up  his  mind  that  all  intervention  should  come  too 
late. 

Never  for  a moment,  did  the  slightest  remorse  enter  his 
heart,  as  to  the  terrible  position  in  which  he  had  placed 
the  unfortunate  wife,  who  had  unconsciously  betrayed 
her  husband.  As  a matter  of  fact,  Chauvelin  had  ceased 
even  to  think  of  her : she  had  been  a useful  tool,  that 
was  all. 

The  Jew’s  lean  nag  did  little  more  than  walk.  She 
was  going  along  at  a slow  jog  trot,  and  her  driver  had 
to  give  her  long  and  frequent  halts. 

“ Are  we  a long  way  yet  from  Miquelon  ? ” asked 
Chauvelin  from  time  to  time. 

44  Not  very  far,  your  Honour/  w?  the  uniform  placid 
reply. 

44  We  have  not  yet  come  across  your  friend  and  mine, 
lying  in  a heap  in  the  roadway,”  was  Chauvelin’s 
sarcastic  comment. 

“Patience,  noble  Excellency/  rejoined  the  son  of 
Moses,  44  they  are  ahead  of  us.  I can  see  the  imprint  of 
the  cart  wheels,  driven  by  that  traitor,  that  son  of  the 
Amalekite.” 

44  You  are  sure  of  the  road  ? ** 

44  As  sure  as  I am  of  the  presence  of  those  ten  gold 
pieces  in  the  noble  Excellency’s  pockets,  which  I trust 
will  presently  be  mine." 


262  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


“ As  soon  as  I have  shaken  hands  with  my  friend  the 
tall  stranger,  they  will  certainly  be  yours.” 

“Hark,  what  was  that?”  said  the  Jew  suddenly. 

Through  the  stillness,  which  had  been  absolute,  there 
could  now  be  heard  distinctly  the  sound  of  horses’  hoofs 
on  the  muddy  road. 

“ They  are  soldiers,”  he  added  in  an  awed  whisper. 

M Stop  a moment,  I want  to  hear,”  said  Chauvelin. 

Marguerite  had  also  heard  the  sound  of  galloping 
hoofs,  coming  towards  the  cart,  and  towards  herself.  For 
some  time  she  had  been  on  the  alert  thinking  that 
Desgas  and  his  squad  would  soon  overtake  them,  but 
these  came  from  the  opposite  direction,  presumably  from 
Miquelon.  The  darkness  lent  her  sufficient  cover.  She 
had  perceived  that  the  cart  had  stopped,  and  with 
utmost  caution,  treading  noiselessly  on  the  soft  road,  she 
crept  a little  nearer. 

Her  heart  was  beating  fast,  she  was  trembling  in  every 
limb ; already  she  had  guessed  what  news  these  mounted 
men  would  bring : “ Every  stranger  on  these  roads  or  on 
the  beach  must  be  shadowed,  especially  if  he  be  tall  or 
stoops  as  if  he  would  disguise  his  height ; when  sighted 
a mounted  messenger  must  at  once  ride  back  and  re- 
port.” Those  had  been  Chauvelin’s  orders.  Had  then 
the  tall  stranger  been  sighted,  and  was  this  the  mounted 
messenger,  come  to  bring  the  great  news,  that  the  hunted 
hare  had  run  its  head  into  the  noose  at  last  ? 

Marguerite,  realizing  that  the  cart  had  come  to  a 
standstill,  managed  to  slip  nearer  to  it  in  the  darkness;  she 
crept  close  up,  hoping  to  get  within  earshot,  to  hear  what 
the  messenger  had  to  say. 

She  heard  the  quick  words  of  challenge — 

“Liberty,  Fraternity,  Egalityi”  then  Chauvelin't 
quick  query: — 


ON  THE  TRACK 


263 


"What  news?” 

Two  men  on  horseback  had  halted  beside  the  vehicle. 

Marguerite  could  see  them  silhouetted  against  the 
midnight  sky.  She  could  hear  their  voices,  and  the 
snorting  of  their  horses,  and  now,  behind  her,  some 
little  distance  off,  the  regular  and  measured  tread  of  a 
body  of  advancing  men : Desgas  and  his  soldiers. 

There  had  been  a long  pause,  during  which,  no  doubt, 
Chauvelin  satisfied  the  men  as  to  his  identity,  for  pre- 
sently, questions  and  answers  followed  each  other  in 
quick  succession. 

"You  have  seen  the  stranger?”  asked  Chauvelin, 
eagerly. 

"No,  citoyen,  we  have  seen  no  tall  stranger;  we  came 
by  the  edge  of  the  cliff.” 

"Then?” 

"Less  than  a quarter  of  a league  beyond  Miquelon, 
we  came  across  a rough  construction  of  wood,  which 
looked  like  the  hut  of  a fisherman,  where  he  might  keep 
his  tools  and  nets.  When  we  first  sighted  it,  it  seemed 
to  be  empty,  and,  at  first  we  thought  that  there  was 
nothing  suspicious  about  it,  until  we  saw  some  smoke 
issuing  through  an  aperture  at  the  side.  I dismounted 
and  crept  close  to  it.  It  was  then  empty,  but  in  one 
corner  of  the  hut,  there  was  a charcoal  fire,  and  a couple 
of  stools  were  also  in  the  hut.  I consulted  with  my 
comrades,  and  we  decided  that  they  should  take  cover 
with  the  horses,  well  out  of  sight,  and  that  I should 
remain  on  the  watch,  which  I did.” 

"Well ! and  did  you  see  anything?” 

" About  half  an  hour  later,  I heard  voices,  citoyen, 
and  presently,  two  men  came  along  towards  the  edge  of 
the  cliff ; they  seemed  to  me  to  have  come  from  the 
Lille  Road.  One  was  young,  the  other  quite  old  They 


264  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

were  talking  in  a whisper,  to  one  another,  and  I could 
not  hear  what  they  said.” 

One  was  young,  the  other  quite  old.  Marguerite’s 
aching  heart  almost  stopped  beating  as  she  listened : 
was  the  young  one  Armand  ? — her  brother  ? — and  the 
old  one  de  Tournay — were  they  the  two  fugitives  who, 
unconsciously,  were  used  as  a decoy,  to  entrap  their 
fearless  and  noble  rescuer. 

“ The  two  men  presently  went  into  the  hut,”  continued 
the  soldier,  whilst  Marguerite’s  aching  nerves  seemed  to 
catch  the  sound  of  Chauvelin’s  triumphant  chuckle, 
“ and  I crept  nearer  to  it  then.  The  hut  is  very  roughly 
built,  and  I caught  snatches  of  their  conversation.” 

“ Yes  ? — Quick ! — What  did  you  hear  ? ” 

“ The  old  man  asked  the  young  one,  if  he  were  sure 
that  was  the  right  place.  1 Oh,  yes,’  he  replied,  ‘ ’tis  the 
place  sure  enough,’  and  by  the  light  of  the  charcoal  fire 
he  showed  to  his  companion  a paper,  which  he  carried. 
‘Here  is  the  plan,’  he  said,  ‘which  he  gave  me  before  I 
left  London.  We  were  to  adhere  strictly  to  that  plan, 
unless  I had  contrary  orders,  and  I have  had  none.  Here 
is  the  road  we  followed,  see  . . . here  the  fork  . . . here 
we  cut  across  the  St  Martin  Road  . . . and  here  is  the 
footpath  which  brought  us  to  the  edge  of  the  cliff,’  I 
must  have  made  a slight  noise  then,  for  the  young  man 
came  to  the  door  of  the  hut,  and  peered  anxiously  all 
*<$und  him.  When  he  again  joined  his  companion,  they 
whispered  so  low,  that  I could  no  longer  hear  them.” 

“ Well  ? — and  ? ” asked  Chauvelin,  impatiently. 

“ There  were  six  of  us  altogether,  patrolling  that  part 
of  the  beach,  so  we  consulted  together,  and  thought  it 
best  that  four  should  remain  behind  and  keep  the  hut  in 
sight,  and  I and  my  comrade  rode  back  at  once  to 
make  report  of  what  we  had  seen.” 


ON  THE  TRACK 


265 


wYou  saw  nothing  of  the  tall  stranger  ?" 

“Nothing,  citoyen.” 

“ If  your  comrades  see  him,  what  would  they  do  ? ” 

“Not  lose  sight  of  him  for  a moment,  and  if  he 
showed  signs  of  escape,  or  any  boat  came  in  sight,  they 
would  close  in  on  him,  and,  if  necessary,  they  would 
shoot : the  firing  would  bring  the  rest  of  the  patrol  to 
the  spot.  In  any  case  they  would  not  let  the  stranger 

go*” 

“Aye!  but  I did  not  want  the  stranger  hurt — not 
just  yet,”  murmured  Chauvelin,  savagely,  “ but  there, 
you’ve  done  your  best.  The  Fates  grant  that  I may  not 
be  too  late  . . 

“ We  met  half  a dozen  men  just  now,  who  have  been 
patrolling  this  road  for  several  hours.” 

“Well?” 

“They  have  seen  no  stranger  either.” 

“Yet  he  is  on  ahead  somewhere,  in  a cart  or  else  ...  I 
Here ! there  is  not  a moment  to  lose.  How  far  is  that 
hut  from  here  ? ” 

“ About  a couple  of  leagues,  citoyen.” 

"You  can  find  it  again? — at  once? — without  hesita- 
tion ? ” 

“ I have  absolutely  no  doubt,  citoyen.” 

“ The  footpath,  to  the  edge  of  the  cliff? — Even  in  the 
dark?” 

“ It  is  not  a dark  night,  citoyen,  and  I know  I can  find 
my  way,”  repeated  the  soldier  firmly. 

“ Fall  in  behind  then.  Let  your  comrade  take  both 
your  horses  back  to  Calais.  You  won’t  want  them. 
Keep  beside  the  cart,  and  direct  the  Jew  to  drive  straight 
ahead ; then  stop  him,  within  a quarter  of  a league  of  the 
footpath  ; see  that  he  takes  the  most  direct  road.” 

Whilst  Chauvelin  spoke,  Desgas  and  his  men  were 


266  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


fast  approaching,  and  Marguerite  could  hear  their  foot 
steps  within  a hundred  yards  behind  her  now.  She 
thought  it  unsafe  to  stay  where  she  was,  and  un- 
necessary too,  as  she  had  heard  enough.  She  seemed 
suddenly  to  have  lost  all  faculty  even  for  suffering: 
her  heart,  her  nerves,  her  brain  seemed  to  have  become 
numb  after  all  these  hours  of  ceaseless  anguish,  culminat- 
ing in  this  awful  despair. 

For  now  there  was  absolutely  not  the  faintest  hope. 
Within  two  short  leagues  of  this  spot,  the  fugitives  were 
waiting  for  their  brave  deliverer.  He  was  on  his  way, 
somewhere  on  this  lonely  road,  and  presently  he  would 
join  them  ; then  the  well-laid  trap  would  close,  two  dozen 
men,  led  by  one,  whose  hatred  was  as  deadly  as  his 
cunning  was  malicious,  would  close  round  the  small 
band  of  fugitives,  and  their  daring  leader.  They  would 
all  be  captured.  Armand,  according  to  Chauvelin’s 
pledged  word  would  be  restored  to  her,  but  her  husband, 
Percy,  whom  with  every  breath  she  drew  she  seemed  to 
love  and  worship  more  and  more,  he  would  fall  into  the 
hands  of  a remorseless  enemy,  who  had  no  pity  for  a 
brave  heart,  no  admiration  for  the  courage  of  a noble 
soul,  who  would  show  nothing  but  hatred  for  the  cunning 
antagonist,  who  had  baffled  him  so  long. 

She  heard  the  soldier  giving  a few  brief  directions  to 
the  Jew,  then  she  retired  quickly  to  the  edge  of  the  road, 
and  cowered  behind  some  low  shrubs,  whilst  Desgas  and 
his  men  came  up. 

All  fell  in  noiselessly  behind  the  cart,  and  slowly  they 
all  started  down  the  dark  road.  Marguerite  waited  until 
she  reckoned  that  they  were  well  outside  the  range  of 
earshot,  then,  she  too  in  the  darkness,  which  suddenly 
seemed  to  have  become  more  intense,  crept  noiselessly 
along. 


CHAPTER  XXVIII 

the  piRE  Blanchard’s  hut 

As  in  a dream,  Marguerite  followed  on ; the  web  was 
drawing  more  and  more  tightly  every  moment  round 
the  beloved  life,  which  had  become  dearer  than  all. 
To  see  her  husband  once  again,  to  tell  him  how  she 
had  suffered,  how  much  she  had  wronged,  and  how 
little  understood  him,  had  become  now  her  only  aim. 
She  had  abandoned  all  hope  of  saving  him : she  saw 
him  gradually  hemmed  in  on  all  sides,  and,  in  despair, 
she  gazed  round  her  into  the  darkness,  and  wondered 
whence  he  would  presently  come,  to  fall  into  the  death- 
trap which  his  relentless  enemy  had  prepared  for  him. 

The  distant  roar  of  the  waves  now  made  her  shudder ; 
the  occasional  dismal  cry  of  an  owl,  or  a sea-gull,  filled 
her  with  unspeakable  horror.  She  thought  of  the 
ravenous  beasts — in  human  shape — who  lay  in  wait 
for  their  prey,  and  destroyed  them,  as  mercilessly  as 
any  hungry  wolf,  for  the  satisfaction  of  their  own 
appetite  of  hate.  Marguerite  was  not  afraid  of  the 
darkness,  she  only  feared  that  man,  on  ahead,  who 
was  sitting  at  the  bottom  of  a rough  wooden  cart, 
nursing  thoughts  of  vengeance,  which  would  have  made 
the  very  demons  in  hell  chuckle  with  delight. 

Her  feet  were  sore.  Her  knees  shook  under  her, 
from  sheer  bodily  fatigue.  For  days  now  she  had 
lived  in  a wild  turmoil  of  excitement ; she  had  not  had 


268  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


a quiet  rest  for  three  nights ; now,  she  had  walked  on 
a slippery  road  for  nearly  two  hours,  and  yet  her  deter- 
mination never  swerved  for  a moment.  She  would  see 
her  husband,  tell  him  all,  and,  if  he  was  ready  to  forgive 
the  crime,  which  she  had  committed  in  her  blind 
ignorance,  she  would  yet  have  the  happiness  of  dying 
by  his  side. 

She  must  have  walked  on  almost  in  a trance,  instinct 
alone  keeping  her  up,  and  guiding  her  in  the  wake  of 
the  enemy,  when  suddenly  her  ears,  attuned  to  the 
slightest  sound,  by  that  same  blind  instinct,  told  her 
that  the  cart  had  stopped,  and  that  the  soldiers  had 
halted.  They  had  come  to  their  destination.  No 
doubt  on  the  right,  somewhere  close  ahead,  was  the 
footpath  that  led  to  the  edge  of  the  cliff  and  to  the  hut. 

Heedless  of  any  risks,  she  crept  quite  close  up  to 
where  Chauvelin  stood,  surrounded  by  his  little  troop : 
he  had  descended  from  the  cart,  and  was  giving  some 
orders  to  the  men.  These  she  wanted  to  hear:  what 
little  chance  she  yet  had,  of  being  useful  to  Percy, 
consisted  in  hearing  absolutely  every  word  of  hia 
enemy’s  plans. 

The  spot  where  all  the  party  had  halted  must  have  lain 
some  eight  hundred  metres  from  the  coast ; the  sound 
of  the  sea  came  only  very  faintly,  as  from  a distance. 
Chauvelin  and  Desgas,  followed  by  the  soldiers,  had 
turned  off  sharply  to  the  right  of  the  road,  apparently 
on  to  the  footpath,  which  led  to  the  cliffs.  The  Jew 
had  remained  on  the  road,  with  his  cart  and  nag. 

Marguerite,  with  infinite  caution,  and  literally  crawling 
on  her  hands  and  knees,  had  also  turned  off  to  the 
right : to  accomplish  this  she  had  to  creep  through  the 
rough,  low  shrubs,  trying  to  make  as  little  noise  ag 
possible  as  she  went  along,  tearing  her  face  and  hands 


THE  PERE  BLANCHARD’S  HUT  269 

against  the  dry  twigs,  intent  only  upon  hearing  without 
being  seen  or  heard.  Fortunately — as  is  usual  in  this 
part  of  France — the  footpath  was  bordered  by  a low, 
rough  hedge,  beyond  which  was  a dry  ditch,  filled  with 
coarse  grass.  In  this  Marguerite  managed  to  find 
shelter;  she  was  quite  hidden  from  view,  yet  could 
contrive  to  get  within  three  yards  of  where  Chauvelin 
stood,  giving  orders  to  his  men. 

“Now,”  he  was  saying  in  a low  and  peremptory 
whisper,  “where  is  the  Pere  Blanchard’s  hut?” 

“About  eight  hundred  metres  from  here,  along  the 
footpath,”  said  the  soldier  who  had  lately  been 
directing  the  party,  “and  half-way  down  the  cliff.” 

“Very  good.  You  shall  lead  us.  Before  we  begin 
to  descend  the  cliff,  you  shall  creep  down  to  the  hut, 
as  noiselessly  as  possible,  and  ascertain  if  the  traitor 
royalists  are  there?  Do  you  understand?” 

“I  understand,  citoyen.” 

“Now  listen  very  attentively,  all  of  you,”  continued 
Chauvelin,  impressively,  and  addressing  the  soldiers 
collectively,  “for  after  this  we  may  not  be  able  to 
exchange  another  word,  so  remember  every  syllable  I 
utter,  as  if  your  very  lives  depended  on  your  memory. 
Perhaps  they  do,”  he  added  drily. 

“We  listen,  citoyen,”  said  Desgas,  “and  a soldier  of 
the  Republic  never  forgets  an  order.” 

“ You,  who  have  crept  up  to  the  hut,  will  try  to  peep 
inside.  If  an  Englishman  is  there  with  those  traitors,  a 
man  who  is  tall  above  the  average,  or  who  stoops  as  if 
he  would  disguise  his  height,  then  give  a sharp,  quick 
whistle  as  a signal  to  your  comrades.  All  of  you,”  he 
added,  once  more  speaking  to  the  soldiers  collectively, 
“ then  quickly  surround  and  rush  into  the  hut,  and  each 
seize  one  of  the  men  there,  before  they  have  time  to 


270  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

draw  their  firearms;  if  any  of  them  struggle,  shoot  at 
their  legs  or  arms,  but  on  no  account  kill  the  tall  man. 
Do  you  understand  ? ” 

“We  understand,  citoyen.” 

“ The  man  who  is  tall  above  the  average,  is  probably 
also  strong  above  the  average : it  will  take  four  or  five 
of  you  at  least  to  overpower  him.” 

There  was  a little  pause,  then  Chauvelin  continued, — 

“ If  the  royalist  traitors  are  still  alone,  which  is  more 
than  likely  to  be  the  case,  then  warn  your  comrades  who 
are  lying  in  wait  there,  and  all  of  you  creep  and  take 
cover  behind  the  rocks  and  boulders  round  the  hut,  and 
wait  there,  in  dead  silence,  until  the  tall  Englishman 
arrives;  then  only  rush  the  hut,  when  he  is  safely  within 
its  doors.  But  remember,  that  you  must  be  as  silent  as 
the  wolf  is  at  night,  when  he  prowls  around  the  pens. 
I do  not  wish  those  royalists  to  be  on  the  alert — the 
firing  of  a pistol,  a shriek  or  call  on  their  part  would  be 
sufficient,  perhaps,  to  warn  the  tali  personage  to  keep 
clear  of  the  cliffs,  and  of  the  hut,  and,”  he  added  em- 
phatically, “it  is  the  tall  Englishman  whom  it  is  your 
duty  to  capture  to-night.” 

“ You  shall  be  implicitly  obeyed,  citoyen.” 

“Then  get  along  as  noiselessly  as  possible,  and  I 
will  follow  you.” 

“What  about  the  Jew,  citoyen?”  asked  Desgas,  as 
silently  like  noiseless  shadows,  one  by  one  the  soldiers 
began  to  creep  along  the  rough  and  narrow  footpath. 

“ Ah,  yes  ! I had  forgotten  the  Jew,”  said  Chauveho, 
and,  turning  towards  the  Jew,  he  called  him  peremptorily. 

“ Here,  you  . . . Aaron,  Moses,  Abraham,  or  what- 
ever your  confounded  name  may  be,”  he  said  to  the  old 
man,  who  had  quietly  stood  beside  his  lean  nag,  as  far 
away  from  the  soldiers  as  possible. 


THE  PERE  BLANCHARD’S  HUT  271 

“Benjamin  Rosenbaum,  so  it  please  your  Honour,” he 
replied  humbly. 

“It  does  not  please  me  to  hear  your  voice,  but  it 
does  please  me  to  give  you  certain  orders,  which  you 
will  find  it  wise  to  obey.” 

“So  please  your  Honour  . . 

“Hold  your  confounded  tongue.  You  shall  stay 
here,  do  you  hear  ? with  your  horse  and  cart  until  our 
return.  You  are  on  no  account  to  utter  the  faintest 
sound,  or  to  breathe  even  louder  than  you  can  help; 
nor  are  you,  on  any  consideration  whatever,  to  leave 
your  post,  until  I give  you  orders  to  do  so.  Do  you 
understand  ? ” 

“But  your  Honour — ” protested  the  Jew  pitiably. 

“ There  is  no  question  of  * but  ’ or  of  any  argument,” 
said  Chauvelin,  in  a tone  that  made  the  timid  old  man 
tremble  from  head  to  foot.  “ If,  when  I return,  I do  not 
find  you  here,  I most  solemnly  assure  you  that,  wherever 
you  may  try  and  hide  yourself,  I can  find  you,  and  that 
punishment  swift,  sure  and  terrible,  will  sooner  or  later 
overtake  you.  Do  you  hear  me  ? ” 

“ But  your  Excellency  . . 

“ I said,  do  you  hear  me?" 

The  soldiers  had  all  crept  away ; the  three  men  stood 
alone  together  in  the  dark  and  lonely  road,  with  Mar- 
guerite there,  behind  the  hedge,  listening  to  Chauvelin’s 
orders,  as  she  would  to  her  own  death  sentence. 

“ I heard  your  Honour,”  protested  the  Jew  again,  while 
he  tried  to  draw  nearer  to  Chauvelin,  “ and  I swear  by 
Abraham,  Isaac  and  Jacob  that  I would  obey  your 
Honour  most  absolutely,  and  that  I would  not  move  from 
this  place  until  your  Honour  once  more  deigned  to  shed 
the  light  of  your  countenance  upon  your  humble  servant; 
but  remember,  your  Honour,  I am  a poor  old  man ; my 


0 


2/2  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

nerves  are  not  as  strong  as  those  of  a young  soldier.  If 
midnight  marauders  should  come  prowling  round  this 
lonely  road  ! I might  scream  or  run  in  my  fright ! and  is 
my  life  to  be  forfeit,  is  some  terrible  punishment  to  come 
on  my  poor  old  head  for  that  which  I cannot  help  ? ” 

The  Jew  seemed  in  real  distress ; he  was  shaking  from 
head  to  foot.  Clearly  he  was  not  the  man  to  be  left  by 
himself  on  this  lonely  road.  The  man  spoke  truly; 
he  might  unwittingly,  in  sheer  terror,  utter  the  shriek 
that  might  prove  a warning  to  the  wily  Scarlet 
Pimpernel. 

Chauvelin  reflected  for  a moment. 

“ Will  your  horse  and  cart  be  safe  alone,  here,  do  you 
think  ? ” he  asked  roughly. 

“I  fancy,  Htoyen,”  here  interposed  Desgas,  “that 
they  will  be  safer,  without  that  dirty,  cowardly  Jew,  as 
with  him.  There  seems  no  doubt  that,  if  he  gets 
scared,  he  will  either  make  a bolt  of  it,  or  shriek  his 
head  off.” 

“ But  what  am  I to  do  with  the  brute  ? ” 

“Will  you  send  him  back  to  Calais,  citoyen  ? * 

“No,  for  we  shall  want  him  to  drive  back  the  wounded 
presently,”  said  Chauvelin,  with  grim  significance. 

There  was  a pause  again — Desgas,  waiting  for  the 
decision  of  his  chief,  and  the  old  Jew  whining  beside  his 
nag. 

M Well,  you  lazy,  lumbering  old  coward,”  said  Chauve- 
lin at  last,  “you  had  better  shuffle  along  behind  us. 
Here,  Citoyen  Desgas,  tie  this  handkerchief  tightly 
round  the  fellow’s  mouth.” 

Chauvelin  handed  a scarf  to  Desgas,  who  solemnly 
began  winding  it  round  the  Jew’s  mouth.  Meekly 
Benjamin  Rosenbaum  allowed  himself  to  be  gagged; 
he,  evidently,  preferred  this  uncomfortable  state  to  that 


THE  PfcRE  BLANCHARD’S  HUT  273 

of  being  left  alone,  on  the  dark  St  Martin  Road.  Then 
the  three  men  fell  in  line. 

“ Quick  ! ” said  Chauvelin,  impatiently,  “ we  have 
already  wasted  much  valuable  time.” 

And  the  firm  footsteps  of  Chauvelin  and  Desgas,  the 
shuffling  gait  of  the  old  Jew,  soon  died  away  along  the 
footpath. 

Marguerite  had  not  lost  a single  one  of  Chauvelin’s 
words  of  command.  Her  every  nerve  was  strained  to 
completely  grasp  the  situation  first,  then  to  make  a 
final  appeal  to  those  wits  which  had  so  often  been  called 
the  sharpest  in  Europe,  and  which  alone  might  be  of 
service  now. 

Certainly  the  situation  was  desperate  enough ; a tiny 
band  of  unsuspecting  men,  quietly  awaiting  the  arrival  of 
their  rescuer,  who  was  equally  unconscious  of  the  trap  laid 
for  them  all.  It  seemed  so  horrible,  this  net,  as  it  were 
drawn  in  a circle,  at  dead  of  night,  on  a lonely  beach, 
round  a few  defenceless  men,  defenceless  because  they 
were  tricked  and  unsuspecting;  of  these  one  was  the 
husband  she  idolised,  another  the  brother  she  loved 
She  vaguely  wondered  who  the  others  were,  who  were 
also  calmly  waiting  for  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel,  while 
death  lurked  behind  every  boulder  of  the  cliffs. 

For  the  moment  she  could  do  nothing  but  follow  the 
soldiers  and  Chauvelin.  She  feared  to  lose  her  way, 
or  she  would  have  rushed  forward  and  found  that  wooden 
hut,  and  perhaps  been  in  time  to  warn  the  fugitives  and 
their  brave  deliverer  yet. 

For  a second,  the  thought  flashed  through  her  mind 
of  uttering  the  piercing  shrieks,  which  Chauvelin  seemed 
to  dread,  as  a possible  warning  to  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel 
and  his  friends — in  the  wild  hope  that  they  would  hear, 
and  have  yet  time  to  escape  before  it  was  too  late.  But 


274  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

she  did  not  know  how  far  from  the  edge  of  the  cliff  she 
was ; she  did  not  know  if  her  shrieks  would  reach  the 
ears  of  the  doomed  men.  Her  effort  might  be  prema- 
ture, and  she  would  never  be  allowed  to  make  another. 
Her  mouth  would  be  securely  gagged,  like  that  of  the 
Jew,  and  she,  a helpless  prisoner  in  the  hands  of  Chauve- 
lin’s  men. 

Like  a ghost  she  flitted  noiselessly  behind  that  hedge  : 
she  had  taken  her  shoes  off,  and  her  stockings  were  by 
now  torn  off  her  feet.  She  felt  neither  soreness  nor 
weariness ; indomitable  will  to  reach  her  husband  in 
spite  of  adverse  Fate,  and  of  a cunning  enemy,  killed  all 
sense  of  bodily  pain  within  her,  and  rendered  her 
instincts  doubly  acute. 

She  heard  nothing  save  the  soft  and  measured  foot- 
steps of  Percy’s  enemies  on  in  front ; she  saw  nothing 
but — in  her  mind’s  eye — that  wooden  hut,  and  he,  hei 
husband,  walking  blindly  to  his  doom. 

Suddenly,  those  same  keen  instincts  within  her  made 
her  pause  in  her  mad  haste,  and  cower  still  further  within 
the  shadow  of  the  hedge.  The  moon,  which  had  proved 
a friend  to  her  by  remaining  hidden  behind  a bank  of 
clouds,  now  emerged  in  all  the  glory  of  an  early  autumn 
night,  and  in  a moment  flooded  the  weird  and  lonely 
landscape  with  a rush  of  brilliant  light. 

There,  not  two  hundred  metres  ahead,  was  the  edge 
of  the  cliff,  and  below,  stretching  far  away  to  free  and 
happy  England,  the  sea  rolled  on  smoothly  and  peace- 
ably. Marguerite’s  gaze  rested  for  an  instant  on  the 
brilliant,  silvery  waters,  and  as  she  gazed  her  heart,  which 
had  been  numb  with  pain  for  all  these  hours,  seemed  to 
soften  and  distend,  and  her  eyes  filled  with  hot  tears : 
not  three  miles  away,  with  white  sails  set,  a graceful 
schooner  lay  in  wait. 


T HE  PERE  BLANCHARD’S  HUT  275 

Marguerite  had  guessed  rather  than  recognized  her. 
It  was  the  Day  Drcam>  Percy’s  favourite  yacht,  with 
old  Briggs,  that  prince  of  skippers,  aboard,  and  all  her 
crew  of  British  sailors  : her  white  sails,  glistening  in  the 
moonlight,  seemed  to  convey  a message  to  Marguerite 
of  joy  and  hope,  which  yet  she  feared  could  never  be. 
She  waited  there,  out  at  sea,  waited  for  her  master,  like 
a beautiful  white  bird  all  ready  to  take  flight,  and  he 
would  never  reach  her,  never  see  her  smooth  deck  again, 
never  gaze  any  more  on  the  white  cliffs  of  England,  the 
land  of  liberty  and  of  hope. 

The  sight  of  the  schooner  seemed  to  infuse  into  the 
poor,  wearied  woman  the  superhuman  strength  of 
despair.  There  was  the  edge  of  the  cliff,  and  some  way 
below  was  the  hut,  where  presently,  her  husband  would 
meet  his  death.  But  the  moon  was  out : she  could  see 
her  way  now : she  would  see  the  hut  from  a distance, 
run  to  it,  rouse  them  all,  warn  them  at  any  rate  to  be 
prepared  and  to  sell  their  lives  dearly,  rather  than  be 
caught  like  so  many  rats  in  a hole. 

She  stumbled  on  behind  the  hedge  in  the  low,  thick 
grass  of  the  ditch.  She  must  have  run  on  very  fast,  and 
had  outdistanced  Chauvelin  and  Desgas,  for  presently 
she  reached  the  edge  of  the  clifl,  and  heard  their  foot- 
steps distinctly  behind  her.  But  only  a very  few  yards 
away,  and  now  the  moonlight  was  full  upon  her,  her 
figure  must  have  been  distinctly  silhouetted  against  the 
silvery  background  of  the  sea. 

Only  for  a moment,  though ; the  next  she  had 
cowered,  like  some  animal  doubled  up  within  itself. 
She  peeped  down  the  great  rugged  cliffs — the  descent 
would  be  easy  enough,  as  they  were  not  precipitous, 
and  the  great  boulders  afforded  plenty  of  foothold. 
Suddenly,  as  she  gazed,  she  saw  at  some  little  distance 


276  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


on  her  left,  and  about  midway  down  the  cliffs,  a rough 
wooden  construction,  through  the  walls  of  which  a tiny 
red  light  glimmered  like  a beacon.  Her  very  heart 
seemed  to  stand  still,  the  eagerness  of  joy  was  so  great, 
that  it  felt  like  an  awful  pain. 

She  could  not  gauge  how  distant  the  hut  was,  but 
without  hesitation  she  began  the  steep  descent,  creeping 
from  boulder  to  boulder,  caring  nothing  for  the  enemy  be- 
hind, or  for  the  soldiers,  who  evidently  had  all  taken  cover 
sirce  the  tall  Englishman  had  not  yet  appeared. 

On  she  pressed,  forgetting  the  deadly  foe  on  her  track, 
running,  stumbling,  foot-sore,  half-dazed,  but  still  on 
. . . When,  suddenly,  a crevice,  or  stone,  or  slippery  bit 
of  rock,  threw  her  violently  to  the  ground.  She  struggled 
again  to  her  feet,  and  started  running  forward  once  more 
to  give  them  that  timely  warning,  to  beg  them  to  flee 
before  he  came,  and  to  tell  him  to  keep  away — away 
from  this  death-trap — away  from  this  awful  doom.  But 
now  she  realised  that  other  steps,  quicker  than  her  own, 
were  already  close  at  her  heels.  The  next  instant  a 
hand  dragged  at  her  skirt,  and  she  was  down  on  her 
knees  again,  whilst  something  was  wound  round  her 
mouth  to  prevent  her  uttering  a scream. 

Bewildered,  half  frantic  with  the  bitterness  of  disap- 
pointment, she  looked  round  her  helplessly,  and,  bend- 
ing down  quite  close  to  her,  she  saw  through  the  mist, 
which  seemed  to  gather  round  her,  a pair  of  keen, 
malicious  eyes,  which  appeared  to  her  excited  brain  to 
have  a weird,  supernatural  green  light  in  them. 

She  lay  in  the  shadow  of  a great  boulder ; Chauvelin 
could  not  see  her  features,  but  he  passed  his  thin,  white 
fingers  over  her  face. 

“ A woman  ! ” he  whispered,  “ by  all  the  Saints  in  the 
calendar.” 


THE  PfcRE  BLANCHARD’S  HUT  277 

“ We  cannot  let  her  loose,  that’s  certain,”  he  muttered 
to  himself.  “ I wonder  now  . . 

Suddenly  he  paused,  and  after  a few  seconds  of 
deadly  silence,  he  gave  forth  a long,  low,  curious  chuckle, 
while  once  again  Marguerite  felt,  with  a horrible  shudder 
his  thin  fingers  wandering  over  her  face. 

“ Dear  me  ! dear  me ! ” he  whispered,  with  affected 
gallantry,  “this  is  indeed  a charming  surprise,”  and 
Marguerite  felt  her  resistless  hand  raised  to  Chauvelin’s 
thin,  mocking  lips. 

The  situation  was  indeed  grotesque,  had  it  not  been 
at  the  same  time  so  fearfully  tragic:  the  poor,  weary 
woman,  broken  in  spirit,  and  half  frantic  with  the  bitter* 
ness  of  her  disappointment,  receiving  on  her  knees  the 
banal  gallantries  of  her  deadly  enemy. 

Her  senses  were  leaving  her;  half  choked  with  the 
tight  grip  round  her  mouth,  she  had  no  strength  to 
move  or  to  utter  the  faintest  sound.  The  excitement 
which  all  along  had  kept  up  her  delicate  body,  seemed 
at  once  to  have  subsided,  and  the  feeling  of  blank 
despair  to  have  completely  paralyzed  her  brain  and 
nerves. 

Chauvelin  must  have  given  some  directions,  which  she 
was  too  dazed  to  hear,  for  she  felt  herself  lifted  from  off 
her  feet : the  bandage  round  her  mouth  was  made  more 
secure,  and  a pair  of  strong  arms  carried  her  towards 
that  tiny,  red  light,  on  ahead,  which  she  had  looked 
upon  as  a beacon  and  the  last  faint  glimmer  of  hope. 


CHAPTER  XXIX 


TRAPPED 

She  did  not  know  how  long  she  was  thus  carried  along 
she  had  lost  all  notion  of  time  and  space,  and  for  a few 
seconds  tired  nature,  mercifully,  deprived  her  of  con- 
sciousness. 

When  she  once  more  realised  her  state,  she  felt  that 
she  was  placed  with  some  degree  of  comfort  upon  a 
man’s  coat,  with  her  back  resting  against  a fragment  of 
rock.  The  moon  was  hidden  again  behind  some 
clouds,  and  the  darkness  seemed  in  comparison  more 
intense.  The  sea  was  roaring  some  two  hundred  feet 
below  her,  and  on  looking  all  round  she  could  no  longer 
see  any  vestige  of  the  tiny  glimmer  of  red  light. 

That  the  end  of  the  journey  had  been  reached,  she 
gathered  from  the  fact  that  she  heard  rapid  questions 
and  answers  spoken  in  a whisper  quite  close  to  her. 

“ There  are  four  men  in  there,  citoyen ; t hey  are 
sitting  by  the  fire,  and  seem  to  be  waiting  quietly.** 

“ The  hour?” 

“ Nearly  two  o’clock.” 

" The  tide?” 

“ Coming  in  quickly.** 

“The  schooner? ” 

“Obviously  an  English  one,  lying  some  three  kilo- 
metres out.  But  we  cannot  see  her  boat.’* 

“ Have  the  men  taken  cover  ? ** 

“ Yes,  citoyen.” 


TRAPPED 


279 


14  They  will  not  blunder  ? ” 

M They  will  not  stir  until  the  tall  Englishman  comes, 
then  they  will  surround  and  overpower  the  five  men.” 

“ Right.  And  the  lady  ? ” 

“ Still  dazed,  I fancy.  She's  close  beside  you, 
citoyen.” 

“ And  the  Jew?” 

14  He’s  gagged,  and  his  legs  strapped  together.  He 
cannot  move  or  scream.” 

“ Good.  Then  have  your  gun  ready,  in  case  you  want 
it.  Get  close  to  the  hut  and  leave  me  to  look  after  the 
lady.” 

Desgas  evidently  obeyed,  for  Marguerite  heard  him 
creeping  away  along  the  stony  cliff,  then  she  felt  that  a 
pair  of  warm,  thin,  talon-like  hands  took  hold  of  both 
her  own,  and  held  them  in  a grip  of  steel. 

“ Before  that  handkerchief  is  removed  from  your  pretty 
mouth,  fkir  lady,”  whispered  Chauvelin  close  to  her  ear, 
“I  think  it  right  to  give  you  one  small  word  of  warning. 
What  has  procured  me  the  honour  of  being  followed 
across  the  Channel  by  so  charming  a companion,  I 
cannot,  of  course,  conceive,  but,  if  I mistake  not,  the 
purpose  of  this  flattering  attention  is  not  one  that  would 
commend  itself  to  my  vanity,  and  I think  that  I am  right 
in  surmising,  moreover,  that  the  first  sound  which  your 
pretty  lips  would  utter,  as  soon  as  the  cruel  gag  is 
removed,  would  be  one  that  would  perhaps  prove  & 
warning  to  the  cunning  fox,  which  I have  been  at  such 
pains  to  track  to  his  lair.” 

He  paused  a moment,  while  the  steel-like  grasp 
seemed  to  tighten  round  her  wrist;  then  he  resumed 
in  the  same  hurried  whisper : — 

“ Inside  that  hut,  if  again  I am  not  mistaken,  your 
brother,  Armand  St  Just,  waits  with  that  traitor  de  Tour- 


2 So  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


nay,  and  two  other  men  unknown  to  you,  for  the  arrival 
of  the  mysterious  rescuer,  whose  identity  has  for  so  long 
puzzled  our  Committee  of  Public  Safety — the  audacious 
Scarlet  Pimpernel.  No  doubt  if  you  scream,  if  there  is 
a scuffle  here,  if  shots  are  fired,  it  is  more  than  likely 
that  the  same  long  legs  that  brought  this  scarlet  enigma 
here,  will  as  quickly  take  him  to  some  place  of  safety. 
The  purpose  then,  for  which  I have  travelled  all  these 
miles  will  remain  unaccomplished.  On  the  other  hand 
it  only  rests  with  yourself  that  your  brother — Armand — 
shall  be  free  to  go  off  with  you  to-night  if  you  like,  to 
England,  or  any  other  place  of  safety.” 

Marguerite  could  not  utter  a sound,  as  the  handker- 
chief was  wound  very  tightly  round  her  mouth,  but 
Chauvelin  was  peering  through  the  darkness  very 
'Closely  into  her  face;  no  doubt  too  her  hand  gave  a 
responsive  appeal  to  his  last  suggestion,  for  presently 
he  continued : — 

“What  I want  you  to  do  to  ensure  Armand’s  safety 
is  a very  simple  thing,  dear  lady.” 

“ What  is  it  ? ” Marguerite’s  hand  seemed  to  convey 
to  his,  in  response. 

“To  remain — on  this  spot,  without  uttering  a sound, 
until  I give  you  leave  to  speak.  Ah ! but  I think  you 
will  obey,”  he  added,  with  that  funny  dry  chuckle  of  his 
as  Marguerite’s  whole  figure  seemed  to  stiffen,  in  defiance 
of  this  order,  “for  let  me  tell  you  that  if  you  scream, 
nay ! if  you  utter  one  sound,  or  attempt  to  move  from 
here,  my  men — there  are  thirty  of  them  about — will 
seize  St  Just,  de  Tournay,  and  their  two  friends,  and 
shoot  them  here — by  my  orders — before  your  eyes.” 

Marguerite  had  listened  to  her  implacable  enemy’s 
speech  with  ever-increasing  terror.  Numbed  with 
physical  pain,  she  yet  had  sufficient  mental  vitality 


TRAPPED 


281 


in  her,  to  realize  the  full  horror  of  this  terrible  “either 
— or  ” he  was  once  more  putting  before  her ; an  “ either 
— or  ” ten  thousand  times  more  appalling  and  horrible, 
than  the  one  he  had  suggested  to  her  that  fatal  night  at 
the  ball. 

This  time  it  meant  that  she  should  keep  still,  and 
allow  the  husband  she  worshipped  to  walk  uncon- 
sciously to  his  death,  or  that  she  should,  by  trying 
to  give  him  a word  of  warning,  which  perhaps  might 
even  be  unavailing,  actually  give  the  signal  for  her  own 
brother’s  death,  and  that  of  three  other  unsuspecting  men. 

She  could  not  see  Chauvelin,  but  she  could  almost 
feel  those  keen,  pale  eyes  of  his  fixed  maliciously 
upon  her  helpless  form,  and  his  hurried,  whispered 
words  reached  her  ear,  as  the  death-knell  of  her  last 
faint,  lingering  hope. 

“Nay,  fair  lady,”  he  added  urbanely,  “you  can  have 
no  interest  in  anyone  save  in  St  Just,  and  all  you  need 
do  for  his  safety  is  to  remain  where  you  are,  and  to 
keep  silent.  My  men  have  strict  orders  to  spare  him 
in  every  way.  As  for  that  enigmatic  Scarlet  Pimpernel, 
what  is  he  to  you  ? Believe  me,  no  warning  from  you, could 
possibly  save  him.  And  now  dear  lady,  let  me  remove 
this  unpleasant  coercion,  which  has  been  placed  before 
your  pretty  mouth.  You  see  I wish  you  to  be  perfectly 
free,  in  the  choice  which  you  are  about  to  make.” 

Her  thoughts  in  a whirl,  her  temples  aching,  her 
nerves  paralyzed,  her  body  numb  with  pain,  Marguerite 
sat  there,  in  the  darkness  which  surrounded  her  as  with 
a pall.  From  where  she  sat  she  could  not  see  the  sea, 
but  she  heard  the  incessant  mournful  murmur  of  the 
incoming  tide,  which  spoke  of  her  dead  hopes,  her  lost 
love,  the  husband  she  had  with  her  own  hand  betrayed, 
and  sent  to  his  death. 


28a  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


Chauvelin  removed  the  handkerchief  from  her  mouth, 
She  certainly  did  not  scream  : at  that  moment,  she  had 
no  strength  to  do  anything  but  barely  to  hold  herself 
upright,  and  to  force  herself  to  think. 

Oh  ! think ! think ! think  ! of  what  she  should  do. 
The  minutes  flew  on ; in  this  awful  stillness  she  could  not 
tell  how  fast  or  how  slowly ; she  heard  nothing,  she  saw 
nothing:  she  did  not  feel  the  sweet-smelling  autumn  air, 
scented  with  the  briny  odour  of  the  sea,  she  no  longer 
heard  the  murmur  of  the  waves,  the  occasional  rattling 
of  a pebble,  as  it  rolled  down  some  steep  incline.  More 
and  more  unreal  did  the  whole  situation  seem.  It  was 
impossible  that  she.  Marguerite  Blakeney,  the  queen  of 
London  society,  should  actually  be  sitting  here  on  this 
bit  of  lonely  coast,  in  the  middle  of  the  night,  side  by 
side  with  a most  bitter  enemy : and  oh ! it  was  not 
possible  that  somewhere,  not  many  hundred  feet  away 
perhaps,  from  where  she  stood,  the  being  she  had  once 
despised,  but  who  now,  in  every  moment  of  this  weird, 
dreamlike  life,  became  more  and  more  dear — it  was  not 
possible  that  he  was  unconsciously,  even  now  walking  to 
his  doom,  whilst  she  did  nothing  to  save  him. 

Why  did  she  not  with  unearthly  screams,  that  would 
re-echo  from  one  end  of  the  lonely  beach  to  the  other, 
send  out  a warning  to  him  to  desist,  to  retrace  his  steps, 
for  death  lurked  here  whilst  he  advanced?  Once  or 
twice  the  screams  rose  to  her  throat — as  if  by  instinct : 
then,  before  her  eyes  there  stood  the  awful  alternative: 
her  brother  and  those  three  men  shot  before  her  eyes, 
practically  by  her  orders  : she  their  murderer. 

Oh  ! that  fiend  in  human  shape,  next  to  her,  knew 
human — female — nature  well.  He  had  played  upon 
her  feelings  as  a skilful  musician  plays  upon  an  instru- 
ment. He  had  gauged  her  very  thoughts  to  a nicety. 


TRAPPED 


283 

She  could  not  give  that  signal — for  she  was  weak, 
ind  she  was  a woman.  How  could  she  deliberately 
order  Armand  to  be  shot  before  her  eyes,  to  have  his 
dear  blood  upon  her  head,  he  dying  perhaps  with  a 
curse  on  her,  upon  his  lips.  And  little  Suzanne’s 
father,  too  ! he,  an  old  man  1 and  the  others  ! — oh  1 
it  was  all  too,  too  horrible. 

Wait ! wait ! wait ! how  long  ? The  early  morning 
hours  sped  on,  and  yet  it  was  not  dawn : the  sea 
continued  its  incessant  mournful  murmur,  the  autumnal 
breeze  sighed  gently  in  the  night : the  lonely  beach  was 
silent,  even  as  the  grave. 

Suddenly  from  somewhere,  not  very  far  away,  a 
cheerful,  strong  voice  was  heard  singing  “God  save 
tSae  King !” 


CHAPTER  XXX 


THE  SCHOONER 

Marguerite’s  aching  heart  stood  still.  She  felt,  mo  * 
than  she  heard,  the  men  on  the  watch  preparing  T*  x 
the  fight.  Her  senses  told  her  that  each,  with  swo^d 
in  hand,  was  crouching,  ready  for  the  spring. 

The  voice  came  nearer  and  nearer;  in  the  vast 
immensity  of  these  lonely  cliffs,  with  the  loud  murmur 
of  the  sea  below,  it  was  impossible  to  say  how  near,  or 
how  far,  nor  yet  from  which  direction  came  that 
cheerful  singer,  who  sang  to  God  to  save  his  King, 
whilst  he  himself  was  in  such  deadly  danger.  Faint  at 
first,  the  voice  grew  louder  and  louder;  from  time  to 
time  a small  pebble  detached  itself  apparently  from 
beneath  the  firm  tread  of  the  singer,  and  went  rolling 
down  the  rocky  cliffs  to  the  beach  below. 

Marguerite  as  she  heard,  felt  that  her  very  life  was 
slipping  away,  as  if  when  that  voice  drew  nearer,  when 
that  singer  became  entrapped  . . . 

She  distinctly  heard  the  click  of  Desgas’  gun  close  to 
her.  . . . 

No  ! no  ! no ! no ! Oh,  God  in  heaven  ! this  cannot  be ! 
let  Armand’s  blood  then  be  upon  her  own  head ! let  her 
be  branded  as  his  murderer!  let  even  he,  whom  she 
loved,  despise  and  loathe  her  for  this,  but  God  1 oh 
God ! save  him  at  any  cost ! 

With  a wild  shriek,  she  sprang  to  her  feet,  and  darted 
round  the  rock,  against  which  she  had  been  cowering : 


THE  SCHOONER 


285 


she  saw  the  little  red  gleam  through  the  chinks  of  the 
hut ; she  ran  up  to  it  and  fell  against  its  wooden  walls, 
which  she  began  to  hammer  with  clenched  fists  in  an 
almost  maniacal  frenzy,  while  she  shouted, — 

“ Armand ! Armand  ! for  God’s  sake  fire ! your  leader 
is  near ! he  is  coming ! he  is  betrayed ! Armand ! 
Armand  ! fire  in  Heaven’s  name ! ” 

She  was  seized  and  thrown  to  the  ground.  She  lay 
there  moaning,  bruised,  not  caring,  but  still  half-sobbing, 
half-shrieking, — 

“ Percy,  my  husband,  for  God’s  sake  fly ! Armand  ! 
Armand ! why  don’t  you  fire  ? ” 

“One  of  you  stop  that  woman  screaming,”  hissed 
Chauvelin,  who  hardly  could  refrain  from  striking  her. 

Something  was  thrown  over  her  face ; she  could  not 
breathe,  and  perforce  she  was  silent. 

The  bold  singer,  too,  had  become  silent,  warned,  no 
doubt,  of  his  impending  danger  by  Marguerite’s  frantic 
shrieks  The  men  had  sprung  to  their  feet,  there  was 
no  need  for  further  silence  on  their  part ; the  very  cliffs 
echoed  the  poor,  heart-broken  woman’s  screams. 

Chauvelin,  with  a muttered  oath,  which  boded  no  good 
to  her,  who  had  dared  to  upset  his  most  cherished  plans, 
had  hastily  shouted  the  word  of  command, — 

“ Into  it,  my  men,  and  let  no  one  escape  from  that 
hut  alive ! ” 

The  moon  had  once  more  emerged  from  between  the 
clouds : the  darkness  on  the  cliffs  had  gone,  giving  place 
once  more  to  brilliant,  silvery  light.  Some  of  the  soldiers 
had  rushed  to  the  rough,  wooden  door  of  the  hut,  whilst 
one  of  them  kept  guard  over  Marguerite. 

The  door  was  partially  open ; one  of  the  soldiers 
pushed  it  further,  but  within  all  wao  darkness,  the 
charcoal  fire  only  lighting  with  a dim,  red  light  the 


286  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


furthest  corner  of  the  hut  The  soldiers  paused  auto- 
matically at  the  door,  like  machines  waiting  for  further 
orders. 

Chauvelin,  who  was  prepared  for  a violent  onslaught ' 
from  within,  and  for  a vigorous  resistance  from  the  four 
fugitives,  under  cover  of  the  darkness,  was  for  the  moment 
paralyzed  with  astonishment  when  he  saw  the  soldiers 
standing  there  at  attention,  like  sentries  on  guard,  whilst 
not  a sound  proceeded  from  the  hut. 

Filled  with  strange,  anxious  foreboding,  he,  too,  went 
to  the  door  of  the  hut,  and  peering  into  the  gloom,  he 
asked  quickly, — 

“What  is  the  meaning  of  this?” 

“I  think,  citoyen,  that  there  is  no  one  there  now,' 
replied  one  of  the  soldiers  imperturbably. 

“You  have  not  let  those  four  men  go  ?”  thundered 
Chauvelin,  menacingly.  “ I ordered  you  to  let  no  man 
escape  alive  ! — Quick,  after  them  all  of  you  ! Quick,  in 
every  direction ! " 

The  men,  obedient  as  machines,  rushed  down  the 
rocky  incline  towards  the  beach,  some  going  off  to  right 
and  left,  as  fast  as  their  feet  could  carry  them. 

“You  and  your  men  will  pay  with  your  lives  for  this 
blunder,  citoyen  sergeant,”  said  Chauvelin  viciously  to 
the  sergeant  who  had  been  in  charge  of  the  men ; “ and 
you,  too,  citoyen,”  he  added  turning  with  a snarl  to 
Desgas,  “ for  disobeying  my  orders.” 

“You  ordered  us  to  wait,  citoyen,  until  the  tali 
Englishman  arrived  and  joined  the  four  men  in  the  hut. 
No  one  came,”  said  the  sergeant  sullenly. 

“ But  I ordered  you  just  now,  when  the  woman 
screamed,  to  rush  in  and  let  no  one  escape.” 

“ But,  citoyen,  the  four  men  who  were  there  before, 
had  been  gone  some  time.  I think  . . 


THE  SCHOONER  287 

**You  think? — You?  . . said  Chauvelin,  almost 
choking  with  fury,  “ and  you  let  them  go  . . 

“You  ordered  us  to  wait,  citoyen,"  protested  the 
sergeant,  “and  to  implicitly  obey  your  commands  on 
pain  of  death.  We  waited." 

41 1 heard  the  men  creep  out  of  the  hut,  not  many 
minutes  after  we  took  cover,  and  long  before  the  woman 
screamed,"  he  added,  as  Chauvelin  seemed  still  quite 
speechless  with  rage. 

“ Hark  ! ” said  Desgas  suddenly. 

In  the. distance  the  sound  of  repeated  firing  was  heard. 
Chauvelin  tried  to  peer  along  the  beach  below,  but  a3 
luck  would  have  it,  the  fitful  moon  once  more  hid  her 
light  behind  a bank  of  clouds,  and  he  rould  see  nothing. 

“One  of  you  go  into  the  hut  and  strike  a light, * he 
stammered  at  last. 

Stolidly  the  sergeant  obeyed:  he  went  up  to  the 
charcoal  fire  and  lit  the  small  lantern  he  carried  in  his 
belt ; it  was  evident  that  the  hut  was  quite  empty. 

“ Which  way  did  they  go  ? ” asked  Chauvelin. 

“ I could  not  tell,  citoyen,”  said  the  sergeant ; “ they 
went  straight  down  the  cliff  first,  then  disappeared  behind 
some  boulders." 

“ Hush  ! what  was  that  ? ” 

All  three  men  listened  attentively.  In  the  far,  very 
far  distance,  could  be  heard  faintly  echoing  and  already 
dying  away,  the  quick,  sharp  splash  of  half  a dozen  oars. 
Chauvelin  took  out  his  handkerchief  and  wiped  the 
perspiration  from  his  forehead. 

“The  schooner’s  boat ! " was  all  he  gasped. 

Evidently  Armand  St  Just  and  his  three  companions 
had  managed  to  creep  along  the  side  of  the  cliffs,  whilst 
the  men,  like  true  soldiers  of  the  well-drilled  Republican 
army,  had  with  blind  obedience,  and  in  fear  of  their 


288  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 


lives,  implicitly  obeyed  Chauvelin’s  orders — to  wait  (ot 
the  tall  Englishman,  who  was  the  important  capture. 

They  had  no  doubt  reached  one  of  the  creeks  which 
Jut  far  out  to  sea  on  this  coast  at  intervals ; behind  this, 
the  boat  of  the  Day  Dream  must  have  been  on  the 
look-out  for  them,  and  they  were  by  now  safely  on  board 
the  British  schooner. 

As  if  to  confirm  this  last  supposition,  the  dull  boom 
of  a gun  was  heard  from  out  at  sea. 

“ The  schooner,  citoyen,”  said  Desgas,  quietly ; M she’s 

off.” 

It  needed  all  Chauvelin’s  nerve  and  presence  of  mind 
not  to  give  way  to  a useless  and  undignified  access  of 
rage.  There  was  no  doubt  now,  that  once  again,  that 
accursed  British  head  had  completely  outwitted  him. 
How  he  had  contrived  to  reach  the  hut,  without  being 
seen  by  one  of  the  thirty  soldiers  who  guarded  the  spot, 
was  more  than  Chauvelin  could  conceive.  That  he  had 
done  so  before  the  thirty  men  had  arrived  on  the  cliff 
was,  of  course,  fairly  clear,  but  how  he  had  come  over 
in  Reuben  Goldstein’s  cart,  all  the  way  from  Calais, 
without  being  sighted  by  the  various  patrols  on  duty 
was  impossible  of  explanation.  It  really  seemed  as  if 
some  potent  Fate  watched  over  that  daring  Scarlet 
Pimpernel,  and  his  astute  enemy  almost  felt  a super- 
stitious shudder  pass  through  him,  as  he  looked  round 
at  the  towering  cliffs,  and  the  loneliness  of  this  outlying 
coast. 

But  surely  this  was  reality  ! and  the  year  of  grace 
1792:  there  were  no  fairies  and  hobgoblins  about. 
Chauvelin  and  his  thirty  men  had  all  heard  with  their 
own  ears  that  accursed  voice  singing  “God  save  the 
King,”  fully  twenty  minutes  after  they  had  all  taken  cover 
around  the  hut;  by  that  time  the  four  fugitives  must 


THE  SCHOONER  289 

have  reached  the  creek,  and  got  into  the  boat,  and  the 
nearest  creek  was  more  than  a mile  from  the  hut. 

Where  had  that  daring  singer  got  to.  Unless  Satan 
himself  had  lent  him  wings,  he  could  not  have  covered 
that  mile  on  a rocky  cliff  in  the  space  of  two  minutes ; 
and  only  two  minutes  had  elapsed  between  his  song  and 
the  sound  of  the  boat’s  oars  away  at  sea.  He  must  have 
remained  behind,  and  was  even  now  hiding  somewhere 
about  the  cliffs ; the  patrols  were  still  about,  he  would 
still  be  sighted,  no  doubt.  Chauvelin  felt  hopeful  once 
again. 

One  or  two  of  the  men,  who  had  run  after  the  fugitives, 
were  now  slowly  working  their  way  up  the  cliff : one  of 
them  reached  Chauvelin’s  side,  at  the  very  moment  that 
this  hope  arose  in  the  astute  diplomatist’s  heart. 

“ We  were  too  late,  citoyen,”  the  soldier  said,  “ we 
reached  the  beach  just  before  the  moon  was  hidden  by 
that  bank  of  clouds.  The  boat  had  undoubtedly  been 
on  the  look-out  behind  that  first  creek,  a mile  off,  but  she 
had  shoved  off  some  time  ago,  when  we  got  to  the  beach, 
and  was  already  some  way  out  to  sea.  We  fired  after 
her,  but  of  course,  it  was  no  good.  She  was  making 
straight  and  quickly  for  the  schooner.  We  saw  her  very 
clearly  in  the  moonlight.” 

“Yes,”  said  Chauvelin,  with  eager  impatience,  “she 
had  shoved  off  some  time  ago,  you  said,  and  the  nearest 
creek  is  a mile  further  on.” 

“ Yes,  citoyen  ! I ran  all  the  way,  straight  to  the  beach, 
though  I guessed  the  boat  would  have  waited  somewhere 
near  the  creek,  as  the  tide  would  reach  there  earliest. 
The  boat  must  have  shoved  off  some  minutes  before  the 
woman  began  to  scream.” 

Some  minutes  before  the  woman  began  to  scream  \ 
Then  Chauvelin’s  hopes  had  not  deceived  him.  The 

1 


tt 


290  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

Scarlet  Pimpernel  may  have  contrived  to  send  the 
fugitives  on  ahead  by  the  boat,  but  he  himself  had  not 
had  time  to  reach  it ; he  was  still  on  shore,  and  all  the 
roads  were  well  patrolled.  At  anyrate,  all  was  not  yet 
lost,  and  would  not  be,  whilst  that  impudent  Britisher 
was  still  on  French  soil. 

“ Bring  the  light  in  here  ! ” he  commanded  eagerly,  as 
he  once  more  entered  the  hut 

The  sergeant  brought  his  lantern,  and  together  the 
two  men  explored  the  little  place : with  a rapid  glance 
Chauvelin  noted  its  contents : the  cauldron  placed  close 
under  an  aperture  in  the  wall,  and  containing  the  last 
few  dying  embers  of  burned  charcoal,  a couple  of  stools, 
overturned  as  if  in  the  haste  of  sudden  departure,  then 
the  fisherman’s  tools  and  his  nets  lying  in  one  corner, 
and  beside  them,  something  small  and  white. 

“Pick  that  up,”  said  Chauvelin  to  the  sergeant, 
pointing  to  this  white  scrap,  “and  bring  it  to  me.” 

It  was  a crumpled  piece  of  paper,  evidently  forgotten 
there  by  the  fugitives,  in  their  hurry  to  get  away.  The 
sergeant,  much  awed  by  the  citoyen’s  obvious  rage  and 
impatience,  picked  the  paper  up  and  handed  it  respect- 
fully to  Chauvelin. 

“ Read  it,  sergeant,”  said  the  latter  curtly. 

“It  is  almost  illegible,  citoyen  ...  a fearful 
scrawl.  ...” 

“I  ordered  you  to  read  it,”  repeated  Chauvelin, 

viciously. 

The  sergeant,  by  the  light  of  his  lantern  began 
deciphering  the  few  hastily  scrawled  words. 

“ I cannot  quite  reach  you,  without  risking  your  lives 
and  endangering  the  success  of  your  rescue.  When  you 
receive  this,  wait  two  minutes,  then  creep  out  of  the  hut 


THE  SCHOONER 


$91 

oae  by  one,  turn  to  your  left  sharply,  and  creep 
cautiously  down  the  cliff ; keep  to  the  left  all  the  time, 
till  you  reach  the  first  rock,  which  you  see  jutting  far  out 
to  sea — behind  it  in  the  creek  the  boat  is  on  the 
look-out  for  you — give  a long,  sharp  whistle — she  will 
come  up — get  into  her — my  men  will  row  you  to  the 
schooner,  and  thence  to  England  and  safety — once  on 
board  the  Day  Dream  send  the  boat  back  for  me,  tell 
my  men  that  I shall  be  at  the  creek,  which  is  in  a direct 
line  opposite  the  ‘ Chat  Gris  * near  Calais.  They  know  it. 
I shall  be  there  as  soon  as  possible— -they  must  wait  for 
me  at  a safe  distance  out  at  sea,  till  they  hear  the  usual 
signal.  Do  not  delay — and  obey  these  instructions 
implicitly.” 

“Then  there  is  the  signature,  citoyen,”  added  the 
sergeant,  as  he  handed  the  paper  back  to  Chauvelin. 

But  the  latter  had  not  waited  an  Instant.  One  phrase 
of  the  momentous  scrawl  had  caught  his  ear.  “ I shall  be 
at  the  creek  which  is  in  a direct  line  opposite  the  4 Chat 
Gris ' near  Calais  ” : that  phrase  might  yet  mean  victory 
for  him. 

14  Which  of  you  knows  this  coast  well?"  he  shouted  to 
his  men  who  now  one  by  one  had  all  returned  from 
their  fruitless  run,  and  were  all  assembled  once  more 
round  the  hut. 

44 1 do,  citoyen,"  said  one  of  them,  14 1 was  born  in 
Calais,  and  know  every  stone  of  these  cliffs.” 

44  There  is  a creek  in  a direct  line  from  the  4 Chat 
Gris’?" 

44  There  is,  citoyen.  I know  it  well.” 

44  The  Englishman  is  hoping  to  reach  that  creek.  He 
does  not  know  every  stone  of  these  cliffs,  he  may  go  there 
by  the  longest  way  round,  and  in  any  case  he  will  proceed 


*92  the  scarlet  pimpernel 

cautiously  for  fear  of  the  patrols.  At  anyrate,  there  is 
a chance  to  get  him  yet.  A thousand  francs  to  each 
man  who  gets  to  that  creek  before  that  long-legged 
Englishman.” 

“ I know  a short  cut  across  the  cliffs,”  said  the  soldier, 
and  with  an  enthusiastic  shout,  he  rushed  forward, 
followed  closely  by  his  comrades. 

Within  a few  minutes  their  running  footsteps  had  died 
away  in  the  distance.  Chauvelin  listened  to  them  for  a 
moment ; the  promise  of  the  reward  was  lending  spurs 
to  the  soldiers  of  the  Republic.  The  gleam  of  hate  and 
anticipated  triumph  was  once  more  apparent  on  his 
face. 

Close  to  him  Desgas  still  stood  mute  and  impassive, 
waiting  for  further  orders,  whilst  two  soldiers  were 
kneeling  beside  the  prostrate  form  of  Marguerite. 
Chauvelin  gave  his  secretary  a vicious  look.  His  well- 
laid  plan  had  failed,  its  sequel  was  problematical ; there 
was  still  a great  chance  now  that  the  Scarlet  Pimpernel 
might  yet  escape,  and  Chauvelin,  with  that  unreasoning 
fury,  which  sometimes  assails  a strong  nature,  was  longing 
to  vent  his  rage  on  somebody. 

The  soldiers  were  holding  Marguerite  pinioned  to  the 
ground,  though  she,  poor  soul,  was  not  making  the 
faintest  struggle.  Overwrought  nature  had  at  last  per- 
emptorily asserted  herself,  and  she  lay  there  in  a dead 
swoon : her  eyes  circled  by  deep  purple  lines,  that  told 
of  long,  sleepless  nights,  her  hair  matted  and  damp 
round  her  forehead,  her  lips  parted  in  a sharp  curve 
that  spoke  of  physical  pain. 

The  cleverest  woman  in  Europe,  the  elegant  and 
fashionable  Lady  Blakeney,  who  had  dazzled  London 
society  with  her  beauty,  her  wit  and  her  extravagances, 
presented  a very  pathetic  picture  of  tired-out,  suffering 


THE  SCHOONER 


293 

womanhood,  which  would  have  appealed  to  any,  but  the 
hard,  vengeful  heart  of  her  baffled  enemy. 

“ It  is  no  use  mounting  guard  over  a woman  who  is 
half  dead,”  he  said  spitefully  to  the  soldiers,  “ when 
you  have  allowed  five  men  who  were  very  much  alive 
to  escape.” 

Obediently  the  soldiers  rose  to  their  feet. 

‘‘You’d  better  try  and  find  that  footpath  again  for  me, 
and  that  broken-down  cart  we  left  on  the  road.” 

Then  suddenly  a bright  idea  seemed  to  strike  him. 

“ Ah  ! by-the-bye  ! where  is  the  Jew  ? ” 

“Close  by  here,  citoyen,”  said  Desgas ; “I  gagged 
him  and  tied  his  legs  together  as  you  commanded.” 

From  the  immediate  vicinity,  a plaintive  moan  reached 
Chauvelin’s  ears.  He  followed  his  secretary,  who  led 
the  way  to  the  other  side  of  the  hut,  where,  fallen  into  an 
absolute  heap  of  dejection,  with  his  legs  tightly  pinioned 
together  and  his  mouth  gagged,  lay  the  unfortunate 
descendant  of  Israel. 

His  face  in  the  silvery  light  of  the  moon,  looked 
positively  ghastly  with  terror : his  eyes  were  wide  open 
and  almost  glassy,  and  his  whole  body  was  trembling,  as 
if  with  ague,  while  a piteous  wail  escaped  his  bloodless 
lips.  The  rope  which  had  originally  been  wound  round 
his  shoulders  and  arms  had  evidently  given  way,  for  it 
lay  in  a tangle  about  his  body,  but  he  seemed  quite 
unconscious  of  this,  for  he  had  not  made  the  slightest 
attempt  to  move  from  the  place  where  Desgas  had 
originally  put  him  : like  a terrified  chicken  which  looks 
upon  a line  of  white  chalk,  drawn  on  a table,  as  on  a 
itring  which  paralyzes  its  movements. 

“ Bring  the  cowardly  brute  here,”  commanded 
Chauvelin. 

He  certainly  felt  exceedingly  vicious,  and  since  he 


294  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

had  no  reasonable  grounds  for  venting  his  ill-humour  on 
the  soldiers  who  had  but  too  punctually  obeyed  his 
orders,  he  felt  that  the  son  of  the  despised  race  would 
prove  an  excellent  butt.  With  true  French  contempt  of 
the  Jew,  which  has  survived  the  lapse  of  centuries  even 
to  this  day,  he  would  not  go  too  near  him,  but  said  with 
biting  sarcasm,  as  the  wretched  old  man  was  brought  in 
full  light  of  the  moon  by  the  two  soldiers, — 

“ I suppose  now,  that  being  a Jew,  you  have  a good 
memory  for  bargains  ? * 

“ Answer ! ” he  again  commanded,  as  the  Jew  with 
trembling  lips  seemed  too  frightened  to  speak. 

“Yes,  your  Honour,”  stammered  the  poor  wretch. 

11  You  remember,  then,  the  one  you  and  I made  to- 
gether in  Calais,  when  you  undertook  to  overtake 
Reuben  Goldstein,  his  nag  and  my  friend  the  tall 
stranger  ? Eh  ? ” 

“ B . . . b . . . but  . . . your  Honour  . . ,* 

“ There  is  no  ‘ but.’  I said,  do  you  remember  ? ” 

“ Y . . . y . . . y . . . yes  . . . your  Honour ! ” 

“ What  was  the  bargain  ? ” 

There  was  dead  silence.  The  unfortunate  man 
looked  round  at  the  great  cliffs,  the  moon  above,  the 
stolid  faces  of  the  soldiers,  and  even  at  the  poor, 
prostrate,  inanimate  woman  close  by,  but  said  nothing. 

“ Will  you  speak  ? ” thundered  Chauvelin,  menacingly. 

He  did  try,  poor  wretch,  but,  obviously,  he  could  not 
There  was  no  doubt,  however,  that  he  knew  what  to 
expect  from  the  stern  man  before  him. 

“ Your  Honour  . . .”  he  ventured  imploringly. 

“Since  your  terror  seems  to  have  paralyzed  your 
tongue,”  said  Chauvelin,  sarcastically,  “I  must  needs 
refresh  your  memory.  It  was  agreed  between  us,  that  if 
we  overtook  my  friend  the  tall  stranger,  before  he 


THE  SCHOONER 


295 

reached  this  place,  you  were  to  have  ten  pieces  of 
gold.” 

A low  moan  escaped  from  the  Jew’s  trembling  lips. 

11  But,”  added  Chauvelin,  with  slow  emphasis,  “ if  you 
deceived  me  in  your  promise,  you  were  to  have  a sound 
beating,  one  that  would  teach  you  not  to  tell  lies.” 

“ I did  not,  your  Honour ; I swear  it  by  Abraham  . . 

“And  by  all  the  other  patriarchs,  I know.  Unfor- 
tunately, they  are  still  in  Hades,  I believe,  according  to 
your  creed,  and  cannot  help  you  much  in  your  present 
trouble.  Now,  you  did  not  fulfil  your  share  of  the  bar- 
gain, but  I am  ready  to  fulfil  mine.  Here,”  he  added, 
turning  to  the  soldiers,  “ the  buckle-end  of  your  two 
belts  to  this  confounded  Jew.” 

As  the  soldiers  obediently  unbuckled  their  heavy 
leather  belts, "the  Jew  set  up  a howl  that  surely  would 
have  been  enough  to  bring  all  the  patriarchs  out  of 
Hades  and  elsewhere,  to  defend  their  descendant  from 
the  brutality  of  this  French  official. 

“ I think  I can  rely  on  you,  citoyen  soldiers,”  laughed 
Chauvelin,  maliciously,  “to  give  this  old  liar  the  best 
and  soundest  beating  he  has  ever  experienced.  But 
don’t  kill  him,”  he  added  drily. 

“ We  will  obey,  citoyen,”  replied  the  soldiers  as 
imperturbably  as  ever. 

He  did  not  wait  to  see  his  orders  carried  out : he 
knew  that  he  could  trust  these  soldiers — who  were  still 
smarting  under  his  rebuke — not  to  mince  matters,  when 
given  a free  hand  to  belabour  a third  party. 

“ When  that  lumbering  coward  has  had  his  punish- 
ment,” he  said  to  Desgas,  “ the  men  can  guide  us  as  far 
as  the  cart,  and  one  of  them  can  drive  us  in  it  back  to 
Calais.  The  Jew  and  the  woman  can  look  after  each 
other,”  he  added  roughly,  “ until  we  can  send  somebody 


296  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

for  them  in  the  morning.  They  can’t  run  away  very 
far,  in  their  present  condition,  and  we  cannot  be 
troubled  with  them  just  now.” 

Chauvelin  had  not  given  up  all  hope.  His  men,  he 
knew,  were  spurred  on  by  the  hope  of  the  reward.  That 
enigmatic  and  audacious  Scarlet  Pimpernel,  alone  and 
with  thirty  men  at  his  heels,  could  not  reasonably  be 
expected  to  escape  a second  time. 

But  he  felt  less  sure  now : the  Englishman’s  audacity 
had  baffled  him  once,  whilst  the  wooden-headen  stupidity 
of  the  soldiers,  and  the  interference  of  a woman  had 
turned  his  hand,  which  held  all  the  trumps,  into  a losing 
one.  If  Marguerite  had  not  taken  up  his  time,  if  the 
soldiers  had  had  a grain  of  intelligence,  if  ...  it  was  a 
long  “ if,”  and  Chauvelin  stood  for  a moment  quite  still, 
and  enrolled  thirty  odd  people  in  one  long,  overwhelm- 
ing anathema.  Nature,  poetic,  silent,  balmy,  the  bright 
moon,  the  calm,  silvery  sea  spoke  of  beauty  and  of  rest, 
and  Chauvelin  cursed  nature,  cursed  man  and  woman, 
and,  above  all,  he  cursed  all  long-legged,  meddlesome 
British  enigmas  with  one  gigantic  curse. 

The  howls  of  the  Jew  behind  him,  undergoing  his 
punishment  sent  a balm  through  his  heart,  overburdened 
as  it  was  with  revengeful  malice.  He  smiled.  It  eased 
his  mind  to  think  that  some  human  being  at  least  was, 
like  himself,  not  altogether  at  peace  with  mankind. 

He  turned  and  took  a last  look  at  the  lonely  bit  of 
coast,  where  stood  the  wooden  hut,  now  bathed  in 
moonlight,  the  scene  of  the  greatest  discomfiture  ever 
experienced  by  a leading  member  of  the  Committee  of 
Public  Safety. 

Against  a rock,  on  a hard  bed  of  stone,  lay  the  un- 
conscious figure  of  Marguerite  Blakeney,  while  some 
few  paces  further  on,  the  unfortunate  Jew  was  receiving 


THE  SCHOONER 


297 


on  his  broad  back  the  blows  of  two  stout  leather  belts, 
wielded  by  the  stolid  arms  of  two  sturdy  soldiers  of  the 
Republic.  The  howls  of  Benjamin  Rosenbaum  were  fit 
to  make  the  dead  rise  from  their  graves.  They  must 
have  wakened  all  the  gulls  from  sleep,  and  made  them 
look  down  with  great  interest  at  the  doings  of  the  lords 
of  the  creation. 

“That  will  do,”  commanded  Chauvelin,  as  the  Jew’s 
moans  became  more  feeble,  and  the  poor  wretch  seemed 
to  have  fainted  away,  “we  don't  want  to  kill  him.” 

Obediently  the  soldiers  buckled  on  their  belts,  one  of 
them  viciously  kicking  the  Jew  to  one  side. 

“Leave  him  there,”  said  Chauvelin,  “and  lead  the 
way  now  quickly  to  the  cart.  I’ll  follow.” 

He  walked  up  to  where  Marguerite  lay,  and  looked 
down  into  her  face.  She  had  evidently  recovered  con- 
sciousness, and  was  making  feeble  efforts  to  raise  herself. 
Her  large,  blue  eyes  were  looking  at  the  moonlit  scene 
round  her  with  a scared  and  terrified  look ; they  rested 
with  a mixture  of  horror  and  pity  on  the  Jew,  whose 
luckless  fate  and  wild  howls  had  been  the  first  signs  that 
struck  her,  with  her  returning  senses ; then  she  caught 
sight  of  Chauvelin,  in  his  neat,  dark  clothes,  which 
seemed  hardly  crumpled  after  the  stirring  events  of  the 
last  few  hours.  He  was  smiling  sarcastically,  and  his 
pale  eyes  peered  down  at  her  with  a look  of  intense 
malice. 

With  mock  gallantry,  he  stooped  and  raised  her  icy- 
cold  hand  to  his  lips,  which  sent  a thrill  of  indescribable 
loathing  through  Marguerite’s  weary  frame. 

“ I much  regret,  fair  lady,”  he  said  in  his  most  suave 
tones,  “ that  circumstances,  over  which  I have  no 
control,  compel  me  to  leave  you  here  for  the  moment. 
But  I go  away,  secure  in  the  knowledge  that  I do  not 


293  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

leave  you  unprotected.  Our  friend  Benjamin  here, 
though  a trifle  the  worse  for  wear  at  the  present  moment, 
will  prove  a gallant  defender  of  your  fair  person,  I have 
no  doubt.  At  dawn  I will  send  an  escort  for  you  ; until 
then,  I feel  sure  that  you  will  find  him  devoted,  though 
perhaps  a trifle  slow.” 

Marguerite  only  had  the  strength  to  turn  her  head 
away.  Her  heart  was  broken  with  cruel  anguish.  One 
awful  thought  had  returned  to  her  mind,  together  with 
gathering  consciousness  : “ What  had  become  of  Percy  ? 
— What  of  Armand  ? ” 

She  knew  nothing  of  what  had  happened  after  she 
heard  the  cheerful  song,  “ God  save  the  King,”  which 
she  believed  to  be  the  signal  of  death. 

“I,  myself,”  concluded  Chauvelin,  “must  now  very 
reluctantly  leave  you.  Au  revoirt  fair  lady.  We  meet, 
I hope,  soon  in  London.  Shall  I see  you  at  the  Prince 
of  Wales’  garden  party? — No? — Ah,  well,  au  rcvoir  ! — 
Remember  me,  I pray,  to  Sir  Percy  Blakeney.” 

And,  with  a last  ironical  smile  and  bow,  he  once  more 
kissed  her  hand,  and  disappeared  down  the  footpath  in 
the  wake  of  the  soldiers,  and  followed  by  the  imperturb- 
able Desgas. 


CHAPTER  XXXI 


THE  ESCAPE 

Marguerite  listened — half-dazed  as  she  was — to  the 
fast-retreating,  firm  footsteps  of  the  four  men. 

All  nature  was  so  still  that  she,  lying  with  her  ear 
close  to  the  ground,  could  distinctly  trace  the  sound  of 
their  tread,  as  they  ultimately  turned  into  the  road,  and 
presently  the  faint  echo  of  the  old  cart-wheels,  the 
halting  gait  of  the  lean  nag,  told  her  that  her  enemy  was 
a quarter  of  a league  away.  How  long  she  lay  there  she 
knew  not.  She  had  lost  count  of  time;  dreamily  she 
looked  up  at  the  moonlit  sky,  and  listened  tr»  the 
monotonous  roll  of  the  waves. 

The  invigorating  scent  of  the  sea  was  nectar  to  her 
wearied  body,  the  immensity  of  the  lonely  cliffs  was 
silent  and  dreamlike.  Her  brain  only  remained 
conscious  of  its  ceaseless,  its  intolerable  torture  of 
uncertainty. 

She  did  not  know  1 — 

She  did  not  know  whether  Percy  was  even  now,  at 
this  moment,  in  the  hands  of  the  soldiers  of  the  Republic, 
enduring — as  she  had  done  herself — the  gibes  and 
jeers  of  his  malicious  enemy.  She  did  not  know,  on 
the  other  hand,  whether  Armand’s  lifeless  body  did  not 
lie  there,  in  the  hut,  whilst  Percy  had  escaped,  only  to 
hear  that  his  wife’s  hands  had  guided  the  human 
bloodhounds  to  the  murder  of  Armand  and  hia 
friends 


300  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

The  physical  pain  of  utter  weariness  was  so  great,  that 
she  hoped  confidently  her  tired  body  could  rest  here 
for  ever,  after  all  the  turmoil,  the  passion,  and  the 
intrigues  of  the  last  few  days — here,  beneath  that  clear 
sky,  within  sound  of  the  sea,  and  with  this  balmy 
autumn  breeze  whispering  to  her  a last  lullaby.  All 
was  so  solitary,  so  silent,  like  unto  dreamland.  Even 
the  last  faint  echo  of  the  distant  cart  had  long  ago  died 
away,  afar. 

Suddenly  ...  a sound  . . . the  strangest,  undoubtedly, 
that  these  lonely  cliffs  of  France  had  ever  heard,  broke 
the  silent  solemnity  of  the  shore. 

So  strange  a sound  was  it,  that  the  gentle  breeze  ceased 
to  murmur,  the  tiny  pebbles  to  roll  down  the  steep  in- 
cline ! So  strange,  that  Marguerite,  wearied,  overwrought 
as  she  was,  thought  that  the  beneficial  unconsciousness 
of  the  approach  of  death  was  playing  her  half-sleeping 
sense:-,  a weird  and  elusive  trick. 

It  was  the  sound  of  a good,  solid,  absolutely  British 
“ Damn  ! ” 

The  sea  gulls  in  their  nests  awoke  and  looked  round 
in  astonishment ; a distant  and  solitary  owl  set  up  a 
midnight  hoot,  the  tall  cliffs  frowned  down  majestically 
at  the  strange,  unheard-of  sacrilege. 

Marguerite  did  not  trust  her  ears.  Half-raising 
herself  on  her  hands,  she  strained  every  sense  to  see 
or  hear,  to  know  the  meaning  of  this  very  earthly 
sound. 

All  was  still  again  for  the  space  of  a few  seconds  ; the 
same  silence  once  more  fell  upon  the  great  and  lonely 
vastness. 

Then  Marguerite,  who  had  listened  as  in  a trance, 
who  felt  she  must  be  dreaming  with  that  cool,  magnetic 
moonlight  overhead,  heard  again ; and  this  time  hei 


THE  ESCAPE 


30i 

heart  stood  still,  her  eyes  large  and  dilated,  looked 
round  her,  not  daring  to  trust  to  her  other  sense. 

“Odd’s  life!  but  I wish  those  demmed  fellows  had 
not  hit  quite  so  hard  ! ” 

This  time  it  was  quite  unmistakable,  only  one  particular 
pair  of  essentially  British  lips  could  have  uttered  those 
words,  in  sleepy,  drawly,  affected  tones. 

*•  Damn  ! ” repeated  those  same  British  lips,  emphatic- 
ally. “ Zounds  ! but  I’m  as  weak  as  a rat ! ” 

In  a moment  Marguerite  was  on  her  feet. 

Was  she  dreaming?  Were  those  great,  stony  cliffs 
the  gates  of  paradise  ? Was  the  fragrant  breath  of  the 
breeze  suddenly  caused  by  the  flutter  of  angels’  wings, 
bringing  tidings  of  unearthly  joys  to  her,  after  all  her 
sufferings,  or — faint  and  ill — was  she  the  prey  of  delirium  ? 

She  listened  again,  and  once  again  she  heard  the  same 
very  earthly  sounds  of  good,  honest  British  language, 
not  the  least  akin  to  whisperings  from  paradise  or  flutter 
of  angels’  wings. 

She  looked  round  her  eagerly  at  the  tall  cliffs,  the 
lonely  hut,  the  great  stretch  of  rocky  beach.  Somewhere 
there,  above  or  below  her,  behind  a boulder  or  inside  a 
crevice,  but  still  hidden  from  her  longing,  feverish  eyes, 
must  be  the  owner  of  that  voice,  which  once  used  to 
irritate  her,  but  which  now  would  make  her  the  happiest 
woman  in  Europe,  if  only  she  could  locate  it. 

“Percy!  Percy !*’  she  shrieked  hysterically,  tortured 
between  doubt  and  hope,  “I  am  here ! Come  to  me  ! 
Where  are  you  ? Percy ! Percy ! . . . ” 

“ It’s  all  very  well  calling  me,  m’dear ! ” said  the  same 
sleepy,  drawly  voice,  “ but  odd’s  my  life,  I cannot  come 
to  you : those  demmed  frog-eaters  have  trussed  me  like  a 
goose  on  a spit,  and  I am  as  weak  as  a mouse  ...  I 
cannot  get  away.” 


302  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

And  still  Marguerite  did  not  understand.  She  did 
not  realise  for  at  least  another  ten  seconds  whence  came 
that  voice,  so  drawly,  so  dear,  but  alas ! with  a strange 
accent  of  weakness  and  of  suffering.  There  was  no  one 
within  sight  . . . except  by  that  rock  . . . Great  God ! 
. . . the  Jew  I . . . Was  she  mad  or  dreaming?  . . . 

His  back  was  against  the  pale  moonlight,  he  was  half- 
crouching,  trying  vainly  to  raise  himself  with  his  arms 
tightly  pinioned.  Marguerite  ran  up  to  him,  took  his 
head  in  both  her  hands  . . . and  looked  straight  into  a 
pair  of  blue  eyes,  good-natured,  even  a trifle  amused — 
shining  out  of  the  weird  and  distorted  mask  of  the  Jew. 

“Percy!  . . . Percy!  . . . my  husband!”  she  gasped, 
faint  with  the  fulness  of  her  joy.  “ Thank  God  ! Thank 
God!” 

“La!  m’dear,”  he  rejoined  good-humouredly,  “we 
will  both  do  that  anon,  an  you  think  you  can  loosen 
these  demmed  ropes,  and  release  me  from  my  inelegant 
attitude.” 

She  had  no  knife,  her  fingers  were  numb  and  weak, 
but  she  worked  away  with  her  teeth,  while  great  welcome 
tears  poured  from  her  eyes,  onto  those  poor,  pinioned 
hands. 

“Odd’s  life!”  he  said,  when  at  last,  after  frantic 
efforts  on  her  part,  the  ropes  seemed  at  last  to  be  giving 
way,  “ but  I marvel  whether  it  has  ever  happened  before, 
that  an  English  gentleman  allowed  himself  to  be  licked 
by  a demmed  foreigner,  and  made  no  attempt  to  give  as 
good  as  he  got.” 

It  was  very  obvious  that  he  was  exhausted  from  sheer 
physical  pain,  and  when  at  last  the  rope  gave  way,  he  fell 
in  a heap  against  the  rock. 

Marguerite  looked  helplessly  round  her. 

“ Oh ! for  a drop  of  water  on  this  awful  beach ! ” she 


mu  2 .-  - 1 .. 


THE  ESCAPE 


303 

cried  in  agony,  seeing  that  he  was  ready  to  faint 
again. 

“Nay,  m’dear,”  he  murmured  with  his  good-humoured 
smile,  “ personally  I should  prefer  a drop  of  good  French 
brandy!  an  you'll  dive  in  the  pocket  of  this  dirty  old 
garment,  you’ll  find  my  flask.  ...  I am  demmed  if  I 
can  move." 

When  he  had  drunk  some  brandy,  he  forced  Marguerite 
to  do  likewise. 

“ La  ! that's  better  now  ! Eh  ! little  woman  ? ” he 
said,  with  a sigh  of  satisfaction.  “ Heigh-ho  1 but  this  is 
a queer  rig-up  for  Sir  Percy  Blakeney,  Bart.,  to  be  found 
in  by  his  lady,  and  no  mistake.  Begad!”  he  added, 
passing  his  hand  over  his  chin,  “ I haven’t  been  shaved 
for  nearly  twenty  hours : I must  look  a disgusting  object. 
As  for  these  curls  ...” 

And  laughingly  he  took  off"  the  disfiguring  wig  and 
curls,  and  stretched  out  his  long  limbs,  which  were 
cramped  from  many  hours’  stooping.  Then  he  bent 
forward  and  looked  long  and  searchingly  into  his  wife’s 
blue  eyes. 

“ Percy,”  she  whispered,  while  a deep  blush  suffused 
her  delicate  cheeks  and  neck,  “ if  you  only  knew  ...” 

“ I do  know,  dear  . . . everything,”  he  said  with 
infinite  gentleness. 

“ And  can  you  ever  forgive  ? ” 

“ I have  naught  to  forgive,  sweetheart ; your  heroism, 
your  devotion,  which  I,  alas ! so  little  deserved,  have 
more  than  atoned  for  that  unfortunate  episode  at  the 
ball.” 

14  Then  you  knew  ? . . . ” she  whispered,  “ all  the 
time  ...” 

“Yes!”  he  replied  tenderly,  “I  knew  ...  all  the 
time.  . . . But,  begad ! had  I but  known  what  a noble 


304  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

heart  yours  was,  my  Margot,  I should  have  trusted  you, 
as  you  deserved  to  be  trusted,  and  you  would  not  have 
had  to  undergo  the  terrible  sufferings  of  the  past  few 
hours,  in  order  to  run  after  a husband,  who  has  done  so 
much  that  needs  forgiveness/’ 

They  were  sitting  side  by  side,  leaning  up  against  a 
rock,  and  he  had  rested  his  aching  head  on  her  shoulder. 
She  certainly  now  deserved  the  name  of  “ the  happiest 
woman  in  Europe.” 

“ It  is  a case  of  the  blind  leading  the  lame,  sweetheart, 
is  it  not  ? ” he  said  with  his  good-natured  smile  of  old. 
“ Odd’s  life ! but  I do  not  know  which  are  the  more 
sore,  my  shoulders  or  your  little  feet.” 

He  bent  forward  to  kiss  them,  for  they  peeped  out 
through  her  torn  stockings,  and  bore  pathetic  witness 
to  her  endurance  and  devotion. 

“ But  Armand  ...”  she  said,  with  sudden  terror  and 
remorse,  as  in  the  midst  of  her  happiness  the  image  of 
the  beloved  brother,  for  whose  sake  she  had  so  deeply 
sinned,  rose  now  before  her  mind. 

“ Oh  ! have  no  fear  for  Armand,  sweetheart,”  he  said 
tenderly,  “did  I not  pledge  you  my  word  that  he  should 
be  safe?  He  with  de  Tournay  and  the  others  are  even 
now  on  board  the  Day  Dream." 

“But  how  ?”  she  gasped,  “ I do  not  understand.” 

“Yet,  ’tis  simple  enough,  m’dear,”  he  said  with  that 
funny,  half-shy,  half-inane  laugh  of  his,  “ you  see  ! when 
I found  that  that  brute  Chauvelin  meant  to  stick  to  me 
like  a leech,  I thought  the  best  thing  I could  do,  as  I 
could  not  shake  him  off,  was  to  take  him  along  with  me. 
I had  to  get  to  Armand  and  the  others  somehow,  and  all 
the  roads  were  patrolled,  and  every  one  on  the  look-out 
for  your  humble  servant.  I knew  that  when  I slipped 
through  Chauvelin’s  fingers  at  the  * Chat  Gris,’  that  he 


THE  ESCAPE 


305 

would  lie  in  wait  for  me  here,  whichever  way  I took.  I 
wanted  to  keep  an  eye  on  him  and  his  doings,  and  a 
British  head  is  as  good  as  a French  one  any  day.” 

Indeed  it  had  proved  to  be  infinitely  better,  and 
Marguerite’s  heart  was  filled  with  joy  and  marvel,  as  he 
continued  to  recount  to  her  the  daring  manner  in  which 
he  had  snatched  the  fugitives  away,  right  from  under 
Chauvelin’s  very  nose. 

“ Dressed  as  the  dirty  old  Jew,”  he  said  gaily,  “ I knew 
I should  not  be  recognised.  I had  met  Reuben  Gold- 
stein in  Calais  earlier  in  the  evening.  For  a few  gold 
pieces  he  supplied  me  with  this  rig-out,  and  undertook  to 
bury  himself  out  of  sight  of  everybody,  whilst  he  lent  me 
his  cart  and  nag.” 

“ But  if  Chauvelin  had  discovered  you,”  she  gasped 
excitedly,  “your  disguise  was  good  . . . but  he  is  so 
sharp.” 

“Odd’s  fish!”  he  rejoined  quietly,  “then  certainly 
the  game  would  have  been  up.  I could  but  take  the  risk. 
I know  human  nature  pretty  well  by  now,”  he  added, 
with  a note  of  sadness  in  his  cheery,  young  voice,  “ and  I 
know  these  Frenchmen  out  and  out.  They  so  loathe  a 
Jew,  that  they  never  come  nearer  than  a couple  of  yards 
of  him,  and  begad ! I fancy  that  I contrived  to  make 
myself  look  about  as  loathsome  an  object  as  it  is  possible 
to  conceive.” 

“Yes  ! — and  then  ? ” she  asked  eagerly. 

“ Zooks  ! — then  I carried  out  my  little  plan  : that  is  to 
say,  at  first  I only  determined  to  leave  everything  to 
chance,  but  when  I heard  Chauvelin  giving  his  orders  to 
the  soldiers,  I thought  that  Fate  and  I were  going  to  work 
together  after  all.  I reckoned  on  the  blind  obedience 
of  the  soldiers.  Chauvelin  had  ordered  them  on  pain  of 
death,  not  to  stir  until  the  tall  Englishman  came.  Desgas 
u 


30 6 THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

had  thrown  me  down  in  a heap  quite  close  to  the  hut ; the 
foldiers  took  no  notice  of  the  Jew,  who  had  driven 
Citoyen  Chauvelin  to  this  spot.  I managed  to  free  my 
hands  from  the  ropes,  with  which  the  brute  had  trussed 
me ; I always  carry  pencil  and  paper  with  me  wherever  I 
go,  and  I hastily  scrawled  a few  important  instructions 
on  a scrap  of  paper ; then  I looked  about  me.  I crawled 
up  to  the  hut,  under  the  very  noses  of  the  soldiers,  who 
lay  under  cover  without  stirring,  just  as  Chauvelin  had 
ordered  them  to  do,  then  I dropped  my  little  note  into 
the  hut,  through  a chink  in  the  wall,  and  waited.  In 
this  note  I told  the  fugitives  to  walk  noiselessly  out  of 
the  hut,  creep  down  the  cliffs,  keep  to  the  left  until  they 
came  to  the  first  creek,  to  give  a certain  signal,  when  the 
boat  of  the  Day  Dream , which  lay  in  wait  not  far  out  to 
sea,  would  pick  them  up.  They  obeyed  implicitly, 
fortunately  for  them  and  for  me.  The  soldiers  who  saw 
them  were  equally  obedient  to  Chauvelin’s  orders.  They 
did  not  stir  ! I waited  for  nearly  half  an  hour  ; when  I 
knew  that  the  fugitives  were  safe  I gave  the  signal,  which 
caused  so  much  stir.” 

And  that  was  the  whole  story.  It  seemed  so  simple  ! 
and  Marguerite  could  but  marvel  at  the  wonderful 
ingenuity,  the  boundless  pluck  and  audacity  which  had 
evolved  and  helped  to  carry  out  this  daring  plan. 

“ But  those  brutes  struck  you  1 ” she  gasped  in  horror, 
at  the  bare  recollection  of  the  fearful  indignity. 

“ Well ! that  could  not  be  helped,”  he  said  gently, 
“ whilst  my  little  wife’s  fate  was  so  uncertain,  I had  to 
remain  here  by  her  side.  Odd’s  life ! ” he  added  merrily, 
“ never  fear ! Chauvelin  will  lose  nothing  by  waiting,  I 
warrant ! Wait  till  I get  him  back  to  England  I — La  1 he 
shall  pay  for  the  thrashing  he  gave  me  with  compound 
interest,  I promise  you.” 


THE  ESCAPE 


30; 


Marguerite  laughed.  It  was  so  good  to  be  beside  him, 
to  hear  his  cheery  voice,  to  watch  that  good-humoured 
twinkle  in  his  blue  eyes,  as  he  stretched  out  his  strong 
arms,  in  longing  for  that  foe,  and  anticipation  of  his 
well-deserved  punishment. 

Suddenly,  however,  she  started  : the  happy  blush  left 
her  cheek,  the  light  of  joy  died  out  of  her  eyes  : she  had 
heard  a stealthy  footfall  overhead,  and  a stone  had  rolled 
down  from  the  top  of  the  cliffs  right  down  to  the  beach 
below. 

M What’s  that  ? ” she  whispered  in  horror  and  alarm. 

•*Oh!  nothing,  m’dear,”  he  muttered  with  a pleasant 
laugh,  “ only  a trifle  you  happened  to  have  forgotten  . . . 
my  friend,  Ffoulkes  . . .” 

“ Sir  Andrew  ! ” she  gasped. 

Indeed,  she  had  wholly  forgotten  the  devoted  friend 
and  companion,  who  had  trusted  and  stood  by  her 
during  all  these  hours  of  anxiety  and  suffering.  She 
remembered  him  now,  tardily  and  with  a pang  of 
remorse. 

“Aye!  you  had  forgotten  him,  hadn’t  you,  m’dear,” 
said  Sir  Percy,  merrily,  “ fortunately,  I met  him, 
not  far  from  the  1 Chat  Gris,’  before  I had  that  interest- 
ing supper  party,  with  my  friend  Chauvelin.  . . . Odd’s 
life  ! but  I have  a score  to  settle  with  that  young  repro- 
bate ! — but  in  the  meanwhile,  I told  him  of  a very  long, 
very  roundabout  road,  that  would  bring  him  here  by  a 
very  circuitous  road  which  Chauvelin’s  men  would  never 
suspect,  just  about  the  time  when  we  are  ready  for  him, 
eh,  little  woman  ? ” 

“ And  he  obeyed  ? ” asked  Marguerite,  in  utter  astonish- 
ment. 

“Without  word  or  question.  See,  here  he  comes* 
He  was  not  in  the  way  when  I did  not  want  him,  and 


308  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

now  he  arrives  in  the  nick  of  time.  Ah ! he  will  make 
pretty  little  Suzanne  a most  admirable  and  methodical 
husband.” 

In  the  meanwhile  Sir  Andrew  Ffoulkes  had  cautiously 
worked  his  way  down  the  cliffs:  he  stopped  once  or 
twice,  pausing  to  listen  for  the  whispered  words,  which 
would  guide  him  to  Blakeney’s  hiding-place. 

“Blakeney!”  he  ventured  to  say  at  last  cautiously, 
“ Blakeney ! are  you  there  ? ” 

The  next  moment  he  rounded  the  rock  against  which 
Sir  Percy  and  Marguerite  were  leaning,  and  seeing  the 
weird  figure  still  clad  in  the  long  Jew’s  gaberdine,  he 
paused  in  sudden,  complete  bewilderment. 

But  already  Blakeney  had  struggled  to  his  feet. 

“ Here  I am,  friend,”  he  said  with  his  funny,  inane 
laugh,  “ all  alive  ! though  I do  look  a begad  scarecrow 
in  these  demmed  things.” 

“ Zooks  ! ” ejaculated  Sir  Andrew  in  boundless  astonish- 
ment as  he  recognised  his  leader,  “ of  all  the  . . . ” 

The  young  man  had  seen  Marguerite,  and  happily 
checked  the  forcible  language  that  rose  to  his  lips,  at 
sight  of  the  exquisite  Sir  Percy  in  this  weird  and  dirty 
garb. 

“ Yes  1 ” said  Blakeney,  calmly,  “ of  all  the  . . . hem  I 
. . . My  friend ! — I have  not  yet  had  time  to  ask  you 
what  you  were  doing  in  France,  when  I ordered  you  to 
remain  in  London  ? Insubordination  ? What  ? Wait 
till  my  shoulders  are  less  sore,  and,  by  Gad,  see  the 
punishment  you’ll  get.” 

“ Odd’s  fish ! I’ll  bear  it,”  said  Sir  Andrew,  with  a 
merry  laugh,  “ seeing  that  you  are  alive  to  give  it.  . . . 
Would  you  have  had  me  allow  Lady  Blakeney  to  do  the 
journey  alone  ? But,  in  the  name  of  heaven,  man,  where 
did  you  get  these  extraordinary  clothes  ? ” 


THE  ESCAPE 


309 

M Lud ! they  are  a bit  quaint,  ain’t  they  ? ” laughed 
Sir  Percy,  jovially.  “ But,  odd’s  fish  ! ” he  added,  with 
sudden  earnestness  and  authority,  “ now  you  are  here, 
Ffoulkes,  we  must  lose  no  more  time : that  brute 
Chauvelin  may  send  some  one  to  look  after  us.” 

Marguerite  was  so  happy,  she  could  have  stayed  here 
for  ever,  hearing  his  voice,  asking  a hundred  questions. 
But  at  mention  of  Chauvelin’s  name  she  started  in  quick 
alarm,  afraid  for  the  dear  life  she  would  have  died  to 
save. 

“ But  how  can  we  get  back  ? ” she  gasped ; “ the  roads 
are  full  of  soldiers  between  here  and  Calais,  and  . . .* 

“ We  are  not  going  back  to  Calais,  sweetheart,”  he 
said,  “ but  just  the  other  side  of  Gris  Nez,  not  half  a 
league  from  here.  The  boat  of  the  Day  Dream  will 
meet  us  there.” 

“ The  boat  of  the  Day  Dream  ?* 

“ Yes  ! ” he  said,  with  a merry  laugh ; “ another  little 
trick  of  mine.  I should  have  told  you  before  that  when 
I slipped  that  note  into  the  hut,  I also  added  another 
for  Armand,  which  I directed  him  to  leave  behind,  and 
which  has  sent  Chauvelin  and  his  men  running  full  tilt 
back  to  the  * Chat  Gris  ’ after  me ; but  the  first  little  note 
contained  my  real  instructions,  including  those  to  old 
Briggs.  He  had  my  orders  to  go  out  further  to  sea,  and 
then  towards  the  west.  When  well  out  of  sight  of  Calais, 
he  will  send  the  galley  to  a little  creek  he  and  I know 
of,  just  beyond  Gris  Nez.  The  men  will  look  out  for . 
me — we  have  a preconcerted  signal,  and  we  will  all  be 
safely  aboard,  whilst  Chauvelin  and  his  men  solemnly  sit 
and  watch  the  creek  which  is  * just  opposite  the  “ Chat 
Gris.”’” 

“ The  other  side  of  Gris  Nez  ? But  I ...  I cannot 
walk,  Percy,”  she  moaned  helplessly  as,  trying  to  struggle 

<0¥L«. 


jio  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

to  her  tired  feet,  she  found  herself  unable  even  tc 
stand. 

“ I will  carry  you,  dear,”  he  said  simply ; “ the  blind 
leading  the  lame,  you  know.” 

Sir  Andrew  was  ready,  too,  to  help  with  the  precious 
burden,  but  Sir  Percy  would  not  entrust  his  beloved,  to 
any  arms  but  his  own. 

“ When  you  and  she  are  both  safely  on  board  the 
Day  Dream”  he  said  to  his  young  comrade,  “ and  I feel 
that  Mile.  Suzanne’s  eyes  will  not  greet  me  in  England 
with  reproachful  looks,  then  it  will  be  my  turn  to  rest.” 

And  his  arms,  still  vigorous  in  spite  of  fatigue  and 
suffering,  closed  round  Marguerite’s  poor,  weary  body, 
and  lifted  her  as  gently  as  if  she  had  been  a feather. 

Then,  as  Sir  Andrew  discreetly  kept  out  of  earshot, 
there  were  many  things  said — or  rather  whispered — 
which  even  the  autumn  breeze  did  not  catch,  for  it  had 
gone  to  rest. 

All  his  fatigue  was  forgotten  ; his  shoulders  must  have 
been  very  sore,  for  the  soldiers  had  hit  hard,  but  the 
man’s  muscles  seemed  made  of  steel,  and  his  energy  was 
almost  supernatural.  It  was  a weary  tramp,  half  a league 
along  the  stony  side  of  the  cliffs,  but  never  for  a moment 
did  his  courage  give  way  or  his  muscles  yield  to  fatigue. 
On  he  tramped,  with  firm  footstep,  his  vigorous  arms 
encircling  the  precious  burden,  and  ...  no  doubt,  as 
she  lay,  quiet  and  happy,  at  times  lulled  to  momentary 
drowsiness,  at  others  watching,  through  the  slowly 
gathering  morning  light,  the  pleasant  face  with  the  lazy, 
drooping  blue  eyes,  ever  cheerful,  ever  illumined  with  a 
good-humoured  smile,  she  whispered  many  things,  which 
helped  to  shorten  the  weary  road,  and  acted  as  a sooth- 
ing balsam  to  his  aching  sinews. 

The  many-hued  light  of  dawn  was  breaking  in  the  east. 


THE  ESCAPE 


3” 

when  at  last  they  reached  the  creek  beyond  Gris  Ner. 
The  galley  lay  in  wait : in  answer  to  a signal  from  Sir 
Percy,  she  drew  near,  and  two  sturdy  British  sailors  had 
the  honour  of  carrying  my  lady  into  the  boat. 

Half  an  hour  later,  they  were  on  board  the  Day  Dream. 
The  crew,  who  of  necessity  were  in  their  master’s  secrets, 
and  who  were  devoted  to  him  heart  and  soul,  were  not 
surprised  to  see  him  arriving  in  so  extraordinary  a 
disguise. 

Armand  St  Just  and  the  other  fugitives  were  eagerly 
awaiting  the  advent  of  their  brave  rescuer;  he  would 
not  stay  to  hear  the  expressions  of  their  gratitude,  but 
found  his  way  to  his  private  cabin  as  quickly  as  he 
could,  leaving  Marguerite  quite  happy  in  the  arms  of  her 
brother. 

Everything  on  board  the  Day  Dream  was  fitted  with 
that  exquisite  luxury,  so  dear  to  Sir  Percy  Blakeney’s 
heart,  and  by  the  time  they  all  landed  at  Dover  he  had 
found  time  to  get  into  some  of  the  sumptuous  clothes 
which  he  loved,  and  of  which  he  always  kept  a supply 
on  board  his  yacht. 

The  difficulty  was  to  provide  Marguerite  with  a pair 
of  shoes,  and  great  was  the  little  middy’s  joy  when  my 
lady  found  that  she  could  put  foot  on  English  shore  in 
his  best  pair. 

The  rest  is  silence ! — silence  and  joy  for  those  who 
had  endured  so  much  suffering,  yet  found  at  last  a great 
and  lasting  happiness. 

But  it  is  on  record  that  at  he  brilliant  wedding  of  Sir 
Andrew  Ffoulkes,  Bart.,  with  Mile.  Suzanne  de  Tournay 
de  Basserive,  a function  at  which  H.R.H.  the  Prince  of 
Wales  and  all  the  'elite  of  fashionable  society  were 
present,  the  most  beautiful  woman  there  was  unques- 
tionably Lady  Blakeney,  whilst  the  clothes  Sir  Percy 


312  THE  SCARLET  PIMPERNEL 

Blakeney  wore,  were  the  talk  of  the  ieunesse  dorU  of 
London  for  many  days. 

It  is  also  a fact  that  M.  Chauvelin,  the  accredited 
agent  of  the  French  Republican  Government,  was  not 
present  at  that  or  any  other  social  function  in  London, 
after  that  memorable  evening  at  Lord  Grenville’s  ball 


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